DWR Chief Says BDCP Is A Good Investment
State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin used a recent Fresno address to promote the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its proposed 35-mile twin tunnel Delta bypass water conveyance feature.
Cowin told a meeting of community leaders that while the BDCP has significant costs and risks, the program would be a good investment for the valley and its agricultural industry.
Delta repairs and improved Delta water conveyance under the BDCP would cost an estimated $19.7 billion.
Under the program’s “beneficiaries pay” proposal, it is understood water users would be responsible for funding $14.5 billion in new water facilities. De-tails are still lacking but, according to the Friant Water Authority, no tangible benefits have been identified for Friant-Kern Canal and Madera Canal users.
Cowin said the BDCP would ultimately result in creation of more than 100,000 acres of new habitat including floodplains, tidal marshes and grasslands while helping resolving water export restrictions (caused by endangered species protection) that have plagued many federal and state water contractors and users south of the Delta in recent years. Supply consistency would be re-established.
He said the tunnels, which are pro-posed to convey up to 9,000 cubic feet per second from south of Sacramento to the federal and state Delta export pump-ing plants near Tracy, would increase south-of-Delta supplies. State and federal project users for many years have been unable to get full contract amounts because of pumping restrictions.
Supply curtailments would continue if the isolated Delta conveyance is not developed, Cowin said.
“You have to compare with what we will get in the future,” he said, adding, “What will be the economic impacts?” In the short-term, Cowin said, “We have to get as much water that can be squeezed out of the system without placing a threat on endangered species.”