For the past year – and beyond – public dialogue in the Delta has been drowning in a flood of competing claims, studies, plans, proposals and promises for resolving California’s increasingly desperate water problems, with much of the hope hinging on a horrendously expensive, scientifically suspect document called the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, or just BDCP.
The BDCP isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, questionable proposal to rescue the state from terminal thirst. But in terms of absolute dollars, and relative risk, it may be the most expensive.
At the core of the proposal are the now infamous twin, 30-mile long, 40-feet wide tunnels that would carry 3,000 acre feet per second of Sacramento and American River water around the Delta and down to pumping stations near Tracy, for shipment to Southern California almond and pistachio growers, among other “crucial” water consumers.
That part of the BDCP will cost about $16 billion, including operation and maintenance, and no one is yet clear who will pay for it.
Meanwhile, the science behind the tunnel is open to dispute and a wide range of critics insist that not nearly enough is known about the consequences of completely plumbing the largest and most ecologically-important estuary on the West Coast of the Western Hemisphere.