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Study criticizes Delta tunnel project


An analysis by a group opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan for tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has concluded the cost of the project far outweighs its potential benefits.

 

Ben van der Meer

Staff Writer-Sacramento Business Journal

An analysis by a group opposed to Gov.Jerry Brown’s plan for tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has concluded the cost of the project far outweighs its potential benefits.

For every $2.50 spent on the tunnels, the delta would only see $1 in benefit, according to Restore the Delta, which tapped economist Jeffrey Michael of theUniversity of the Pacific to do the analysis.

“The tunnels don’t offer benefits to justify a $14 billion price tag,” Michael said, noting other approaches could accomplish many of the same goals as the tunnels are supposed to meet, at far less cost. Making delta levees bigger and thus more earthquake resistant, for example, would cost about $4 billion, leaving billions left over for water storage, management and conservation, Michael said.

Earlier upgrades have significantly reduced the number and severity of floods within the greater delta, he said.

He also pointed out the tunnels don’t create a new water supply, whereas a less-expensive approach could emphasize stormwater capture, desalinization and other measures to do so.

Restore the Delta officials also pointed out a cost-benefit analysis is required by state law for a project like the conveyance tunnels, but state water officials have so fair refused to do one.

 

 

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