Monday, January 19, 2009

Good peripheral canal commentary

Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute in the Sacramento Bee.

Gleick makes a number of good points. I think the canal is most likely a bad idea, but I completely agree with him that one can't even make a good assessment until there is a clear proposal to assess. For example, it isn't at all clear how much water can be exported through a canal in an environmentally sound manner. It seems to me that for the cost-benefit to pencil out, exports would have to be high. Gleick also makes a good point that the rush to build a canal is distracting from discussion and implementation of other important recommendations to come from the process, such as investment in conservation.

Unfortunately, I don't anticipate that we will see the careful approach advocated by Gleick. We are in the midst of worsening drought, the recession has taken a toll on ag. prices, and south of Delta agriculture is in for a very tough year in 2009 (following several years of record profits). That will be used to add urgency to the push for a canal (although low ag. prices actually lower the value of exported water.)

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