The way we see the California water war, there’s either got to be approval of Devin Nunes’ H.R. 1837 or a giant tunnel is going to be built under the Delta. The entire Bay Delta Conservation Plan is heading toward the idea of a tunnel. That might be a good solution to the environmental situation in the Delta and providing more water to farms and people.
But, how long will a tunnel take to build? How many farms can hold out for the decade or two for it to be built? How many 20% or 30% or 40% allocation years can they sustain?
The other problem with the tunnel is the environmentalists themselves. Will they ever let it be built? If they won’t allow dams, why would they commit to a 35-mile tunnel under the Delta that deprives the Delta of the very water they say it needs to survive? Does anyone really believe it won’t be tied up in court for years or even decades?
We know this: environmentalists don’t have a problem with time or talking or delays. It all works for them. They like being in court. They get paid for it. We don’t. For us, time is money. They can afford to outlast us because outlasting us is how they make their living.
We might also mention that the tunnel will cost at least $14-billion and we’ve already seen estimates as high as $23-billion. The debt service guestimate alone on it will be a billion a year out of the already bankrupt California budget. On top of all that, it’s supposed to be a ‘users pay’ project. Can the ag community afford their share of building it, their share of the debt service and try to make a living for the 10 or 20 years it’s going to take before they get any water out of it?
So, we would recommend everyone take a good, hard look at Devin’s(and Denham’s and McClintock’s) H.R. 1837. It solves the problem now and saves money instead of spending. If people still want to move toward a tunnel or peripheral canal, they can move as fast or slow as they want because we’ll have water while they do it. The water will be in our court while the lawsuits and delays go on and on. Time will then be on our side.
We would also offer this advice for people in and around the Delta and all environmentalists everywhere: if you believe the tunnel is inevetible, you might be better off with H.R. 1837. For environmentalists, it’s got to be the lesser of what they would consider to be two evils. And remember this: if the people of Southern California ever realize where their water comes from (and they don’t), and vote accordingly, they will get water one way or another.