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Letter: We should look for permanent solutions to California’s water issues

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Posted: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 12:00 am

With much fanfare, Gov. Jerry Brown touted a massive twin tunnel system to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to vast farmlands and thirsty cities in Southern California — the “Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”

The plan has been tagged with a cute project title of “twin tunnels,” but why two? Why not three, four or one tunnel(s)?

State officials originally said the estimated cost would be about $25 million. Revised estimates by analysis peg tunnel costs at up to $69 billion. A 2012 study by California Common Sense, a Silicon Valley-based nonprofit, suggested the final cost could top $203 Billion.

Mr. Jerry Meral, Gov. Brown’s top appointed water official, who retired at the end of December 2013, said, “The Bay Delta Conservation Plan is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta.” In other words we could call it the “Destroy the Delta Project.”

Californians want water issues fixed, but not enough to pay a lot for it. In initial questioning, 60 percent of those polled said they would favor a bond to finance statewide water improvements. But when told the bond would require the state to borrow up to $6 billion, support plunged to 36 percent.

Have alternate water solutions been researched? With little rain and declining reservoirs — efforts to resolve must be exhausted! With a neighboring Pacific Ocean, has desalination been seriously considered for a permanent solution? Have desalination technology experts been asked to participate in a panel to exchange ideas about new water resources?

Energy Recovery, Inc. of San Leandro develops and manufactures devices for uses in sea water desalination. In 2008 Poseidon Resources Corp. of Connecticut won approval to build a $300 million desalination plant in Carlsbad, which will produce 50 million gallons of drinking water per day. Marin Municipal Water District has won approval to build a plant that will produce five million gallons per day. Eighteen countries, most of which are smaller physically and economically than California, have built desalination plants.

Instead of invoking periodic conservation measures and throwing millions toward draught relief when Mother Nature doesn’t smile, California should invest in permanent solutions that provide ample quantities of water for the future. Two-thirds of the earth’s surface is water — why not use it?

Save the Delta and California.

Bill Castro


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