James Hunter

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Waterfix, what & why is it, who benefits and how much will it cost us?

Is Waterfix the right thing to do for Santa Clara Valley? Obviously The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) serving 19 million people in Los Angeles County and adjacent counties is very in favor of Waterfix. Over 30% of the water used is from the Sacramento Delta, another major source, roughly 15%,  is the Colorado River via the aqueduct. Without the continued access to both imports, Southern California has major problems supplying the current and growing population and industries.

An underlying issue is the water source for the State Water Project which is the source for the California Aqueduct is an area on the south side of the Delta, Clifton Court Forebay. It is 3 to 6 feet above sea level. If sea level increases by 3 feet there is a significant potential for salt water intrusion, into the Delta, especially in a drought when the water flow into the Delta is decreased. The result is that the water available from the Delta may not be a reliable source in the future.

The tunnels bypass the Delta and start at about 150 feet above sea level, three feeder tunnels/intakes on the Sacramento river south of the city . The twin tunnels run 30 miles, 150 feet below the Delta and each is 40 feet in diameter. Then the tunnels are pumped into the
Clifton Court Forebay which connects to several canals/aqueducts including the California Aqueduct. This is supposed to preserve the utility of the existing SWP (State Water Project) infrastructure and extend it's life by over 100 years or more.

The diversion of the water from the Delta have raised concerns of environmentalists that it may actually damage the Delta and contribute to the damage to several endangered species, of fish.

To put the size of the project in perspective the tunnels will be roughly the same length, as the English Channel tunnels. The "estimated" costs are $16 billion and $8 billion for restoration of the Delta. Keep in mind that the Chunnels missed their forecast budget and actually cost twice as much ($50+ billion).

In "theory" the taxpayers are not paying for the Waterfix, but in reality  we're looking at spending our money, as increases in water bills and/or property tax (Parcel Tax) will actually pay for the project. In our case Santa Clara Valley Water District (SCVWD aka The Golden Spigot), which voted conditionally on 10/17/2017, to support a single tunnel version. Which is likely the worst decision as cutting number of tunnels in half (a) won't cut the cost in half, likely less than 30% less cost., (b) no redundancy in the event of an earth quake, (c) a failure in the tunnel will require it be shut down completely for repairs.

Financial support is becoming soft from various water districts, except those that are the direct beneficiaries of the guaranteed water supply or those that feel they can get access without the financial burden. 

It's time for Governor Brown to take a hard look at the twin-tunnel portion of WaterFix, before it becomes California's equivalent of the Pyramids, by the Nile.

No comments:

Post a Comment