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One chance to do it right

Posted: December 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: December 11, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Build it once. Build it right.

That approach can be applied to many things. If you were building a house from scratch, what would serve you better — cutting corners on design, construction techniques and materials or building a well-designed home meant to last?

Is the cheaper house better if you have to rebuild it in a few years or if you have to add on because your design wasn’t large enough to accommodate your family?

The same questions could be posed when considering the proposed solution to California’s water infrastructure crisis, and at Castaic Lake Water Agency we believe the answer is obvious:

Let’s pick the right solution, let’s build it once, and let’s build it right.

The Santa Clarita Valley will be impacted by the outcome of how this issue is addressed, as currently about half of our water is imported through the State Water Project.

The question of how to best address the state’s water infrastructure crisis will make headlines in the weeks and months to come, but the current situation is unacceptable.

A single earthquake could wreak havoc in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and disrupt Southern California’s water supply for up to a year or more.

We at CLWA are very concerned, as the U.S. Geological Survey estimates there is a 60 percent chance that such a quake could occur in the next 30 years.

The Bay Delta Conservation Plan proposal to modernize the state’s water-delivery system with two tunnels under the Delta would avoid this calamity.
These same facilities will help deal with the effects of rising sea levels and help restore more natural flow patterns in the Delta. Other aspects of the program will re-establish wetlands on lands that were drained.

With this week’s release of the public draft of the environmental study for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, some are inaccurately characterizing this as a Southern California water grab or an attempt to “drain the Delta.”

Neither of these claims is correct. Rather, they are made to play to regional provincial interest.

The truth is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is designed to meet California’s co-equal goals of ensuring water supply reliability and enhancing the ecosystem in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The plan would basically stabilize water supplies we currently receive from the Delta. Pumping would continue within existing restrictions to protect fish and wildlife, but would be more efficient, more reliable and less vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters.

Administrative draft documents have been circulating for several months, and with the release of the public draft comes the beginning of the formal comment period, during which the public can weigh in on the Bay Delta

Conservation Plan draft environmental impact report/environmental impact statement.

We recognize that building the new conveyance system will not be cheap — and the cheapest option will not necessarily be the right one. Ultimately, California’s ratepayers and taxpayers will be asked to pay costs — in the billions — to build it.

But the economic benefits are also in the billions, and the costs of not building it, especially in light of reduced snowpack levels due to the changing climate and the inevitability of a major earthquake, are clearly unacceptable.

As the public reviews the plan documents from now through April 14, we hope for a productive exchange of ideas and a general sense of recognition that the question isn’t whether California can afford to build the new water conveyance system. The question is: Can we afford not to build it?

We believe the answer is obvious: California’s future depends on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. We need a solution for the Delta to protect the state’s economy, quality of life and natural environment alike.

We need to build it right, it needs to meet the state’s needs for many decades, and it needs to be built to last.

Just like a family’s home, it may be our state’s most important investment.

Dan Masnada is the general manager of the Castaic Lake Water Agency.

 

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