In our last newsletter, we reported that the Central Coast Water Authority (CCWA), which wholesales State Water Project Water to Santa Barbara County, had voted not to go forward with the BDCP and the peripheral canal. Carolee Krieger, President of California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), reports that although four Southcoast water agencies voted not to go forward, they were out-voted by Santa Maria, so CCWA presently DOES intend to support the BDCP.
However, C-WIN has just released a report (available here) on the high cost and low reliability of State Water Project water for Santa Barbara County. The report, “The Cost of Water for Santa Barbara County – Why We Cannot Afford a Peripheral Canal” documents huge cost overruns and dismal water deliveries for State Water Project (SWP) water in Santa Barbara County. C-WIN recommends that Santa Barbara County and its water agencies withdraw support for the Peripheral Canal/Tunnel.
The experience of Santa Barbara County should be a warning to ratepayers in urban areas around the state that get SWP water. Krieger said, “Santa Barbara County voters were told in 1991 that it would cost $270 million to get 97% of our State Water Project contract amounts. The reality is that it will ultimately cost us nearly $1.7 billion for a lot less water than they promised, especially during drought years when it is actually needed. We are being told by the same people that the Peripheral Canal will ‘only’ cost $14 billion. The rest of California’s ratepayers and taxpayers should learn from our economic disaster by rejecting the Peripheral Canal/Tunnel.”
With higher water costs, ratepayers use less water, leading to lower revenues for water agencies, increased debt, and potential bankruptcy.