20 Aug 2012

If wishes were horses*

Bob Muir (Press Office Manager, The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California) send this to Wayne Lusvardi (CalWatchdog):
If CalWatchdog is going to continue to rely on Wayne Lusvardi to write about California water issues, it would be nice if he was required to verify his facts. His latest piece incorrectly reports that Southern California ratepayers would pay for 75 percent of the Delta conveyance fix. This is blatantly wrong. The cost breakdown, which has yet to be finalized, would put that number closer to 25 percent. CalWatchdog would be better served if it sought confirmation from BDCP rather than citing an inaccurate blogger for the information.
Wayne forwarded it to me, asking for a comment, and this is what I sent back to him and Bob:
It's nice to know that MWD has such a good memo-issuing mechanism, but I'd prefer to see MWD spend more time fixing its dysfunctional water and cost allocation mechanisms.

I understand that MWD prefers to claim that it will pay only 25-28% of costs for the Delta "thing," but I think that stand is misleading for a few reasons:
  1. Farmers are surely NOT going to pay for 72-75% and Federal/State taxpayers are broke, so the expense is likely to fall on MWDSC, since the project is -- according to MWD -- NECESSARY for the survival of SoCal. Just curious, but what % of lobbying and study costs has MWD paid, compared to the farmers?
  2. Some agencies are proposing per capita cost allocation, as Jeff has discussed
  3. MWD has a LONG history -- an addiction even -- to underestimating project costs and paying more later (as discussed in my dissertation). This is not a big deal for MWD managers, of course, since ratepayers pay for failure.
I will post these points on my blog as part of my continuing effort to explain how MWD is pursuing an unsustainable infrastructure disaster that harms rate payers, the environment, and the citizens of California and the US.
...and I haven't heard a thing since.

I win.

* Press officers would ride!

1 comment:

Mr. Kurtz said...

IMO, the "thing" still needs to be built, for environmental and public safety reasons. And you're right, farmers will not be able to pay for more than a little bit of it. Baking the facility just barely big enough to meet M&I, and some environmental needs, will not lower the huge fixed costs by much. You can't even grow bud with $1,000 per acre-foot water. But getting the marginal income from a fair volume of ag deliveries actually improves the overall feasibility, since that increase in volume does not come at a big increase in fixed costs. This is how the State Water Project works. Even though some Los Angelenos think they are giving the Kern County farmers a free ride, it is the city people who are getting the better deal.
Interestingly, both ag and MWD are really putting their focus on non-Delta sources of water (largely inter-basin transfers, increased conservation, off-stream storage). If the Delta interests play their hand too hard, they may find they become much less relevant. When the Delta does collapse, either physically or environmentally, people will say, "Meh, fix it yourselves.".

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