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You get to pay for a message you don’t support

Your tax dollars are now helping to support the BDCP propaganda machine. In an opinion  editorial in the San Jose Mercury News earlier this month, Department of Water Resources (DWR) director Mark Cowin insisted that “Levees alone won’t secure California’s water” (but the BDCP will).

Of course, we never said levee improvements would fix everything. We just know that sending the Sacramento River under the Delta isn’t the answer.

To hear Cowin describe it, the entire Delta is just a big bowl waiting to fill with water from levee failures and sea level rise. He talks about shielding the proposed new intakes with modern, more effective fish screens. But he fails to mention that these screens have yet to be designed, would need numerous tests, and – according to experts – might not work anyway. We’d like to see the state reconfigure the existing pumps and provide the state-of-the-art fish screens that exporters promised years ago.

This public servant encourages wishful public thinking by asserting that east-to-west flows will compensate for the lack of flow of fresh Sacramento River water through the Delta, as if fish could ever be expected to do better with less water. Likewise, as the Golden Gate Salmon Association has noted, proposed restoration of wetlands will not mitigate for lack of Delta flows.

Cowin says that “Our 140 years of levee construction are trivial in geologic time” but neglects to mention that the same is true of the 60-year-old system built by the state and federal governments to store water and move it around California. The wonder is that the State would back investment in more of the same kind of grandiose water management. Cowin’s agency should be focusing all its efforts on diversification of local water supply sources that will be more resilient to the droughts that we know we can anticipate, regardless of what may happen with earthquakes or sea level rise.

We can’t even get the State to back a statewide cost-benefit analysis for the BDCP’s Rube Goldberg pump-and-tunnel scheme.

Instead of attempting to position Delta experts, such as farmers, fishermen, engineers, environmentalists, economists, water agency leaders, government leaders, and business people, as the uninformed, Mark Cowin, Governor Brown, and Resources Secretary John Laird should make sure that the state follows its own guidelines and fully analyzes the true costs to Californians of the largest proposed public works project in the history of the state.

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