26 Jul 2012

California's Delta plan

...is badly designed, either through incompetence or corruption.*

The current "plan" (via DL) to build two $14 billion "peripheral tunnels" to convey water around the Sac-SJ Delta to farmers (75%) and cities (25%) in central and southern California suffers from three fatal defects:
  1. Users are not going to pay for the tunnel in proportion to their use (other people's money!).
  2. There's no sign that users have functioning demand management programs in place (that means markets for farmers and scarcity water pricing for cities). There's no point in giving them the same/more water until they do.
  3. The conveyance -- and exports it implies -- does nothing to restore the Delta ecosystem.
I give the current proposal an "F" for (1) subsidies to special interests, (2) inefficiency, and (3) unsustainability. In other words, it's another example of policy failure in my home state, which saddens me.

Bottom Line: California needs a wholesale reorganization of the way it manages water in policy and practice. I'm not going to waste my time on its current failures until I see some sign of seriousness.**
* See the Delta Vision Foundation, Jeff Michael's blog and analyses, and this PDF for more background and criticism from people who know a lot more than I do.

** I reserve the right to comment on novel expressions of stupidity or corruption.