Sunday, October 28, 2007
Beware the new dam initiative in California - it is bad water policy
Water storage in new surface reservoirs would be costly and the benefits are unproven.California's Governor and his allies in the legislature are proposing construction of two new dams and expansion of an existing reservoir:
* Temperance Flat Reservoir on the San Joaquin River - map of proposed location.
* Sites Reservoir – off-stream near the Sacramento River - map of proposed location.
* expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir - off-stream in Contra Costa County - map of reservoir location.
No studies have been completed to show "how the reservoirs would be operated, who would pay for the local cost-share portions or how the reservoirs would provide environmental benefits." (Dam distraction won't help save Delta - sacbee 27oct2007.)
These dam construction proposals would "allocate unprecedented amounts of public funding for specific infrastructure projects for which feasibility studies have still not been completed." (Perata's Water Bond Package - environmentaldefense 10oct2007.)
Gov. Schwarzenegger's plan is bad governance and bad water policy. Why the desperate panic to get approval before the economic value of these water storage projects has been studied? Why the hurry to fund the projects even though no water agencies in California have committed to purchase the water that these projects would capture? I think it is likely that when the real costs are known nobody will be able to afford the small amount of very costly water that these projects could provide. Expansion of certain existing reservoirs or off-stream water storage projects might sometimes be good approaches, but I want to see customer contracts committing them to pay the full cost of all the water before construction of any new water storage project is funded with California taxpayers' money.
California's water supply can be increased via conservation & recycling"Water conservation and recycling can easily meet our future water needs at a fraction of the cost. The 2005 California Water Plan by the Department of Water Resources states that four million acre feet of water could be saved by additional water efficiency and recycling programs." (Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Water Bond Proposal is all Wet - Sierra Club 04oct2007.) This, together with water storage via recharge of underground aquifers, is the best policy for water management in California because it will provide the lowest cost and most rapid additions to our water supplies.
California Water Plan Update 2005 - CA Dept Water Resources.
More about: Water Policy Sacramento CA and California River Conservation.
Tags: dam, water, water storage, water policy.