12 Jun 2015

Big visions lead to big failures

Robert Pyke calls BS on Gov Brown's demagogic insistence that the Peripheral Pipes are (1) necessary and (2) understood. Read one (or more) of his five open letters here.

His letters -- which seem sensible in many ways -- reminded me of two common factors for megaprojects (projects of $1 billion or more).

First, they often cost more, come late and fail to deliver promised benefits (listen to this podcast)

Second, they are often implemented over the objections of critics who end up being right.

Case-in-point? The Colorado River Aqueduct that Metropolitan built in the 1930s. It came in on budget and on time, but there was no demand for its (expensive) water. What was the solution? LA covered the cost of selling water below cost to an ever-expanding area in Southern California. The subsidized water, in other words, was used to subsidize growth that turned out to be, I'd say, less than sustainable. (I describe the failure of the CRA in section 3.3 of my dissertation and the resulting unsustainable growth here.)

What's my "solution" to the Peripheral Pipes problem? As I've said for seven years: Water independence for the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.

Bottom Line: Don't waste $30 $20 $30 billion of taxpayer money on a non-solution.