If he were at the DSC meeting last Thursday, he would have heard Bob Gilbert, a reknowned geotechnical engineer and risk management expert from the University of Texas. Dr. Gilbert was on the peer review team for the DRMS study a few years ago, and chaired the recent peer review for the Delta Protection Commission's Economic Sustainability Plan. He made these comments:
"seismic risk to the water supply really is not that significant."(Note: the basis for the comments are the DRMS studies, quotes are from my meeting notes and may not be exact)
"If you look at the consequences... the net present value over a 100 year window of water supply losses is about $2 billion ... does not in any way justify spending $10 billion on conveyance."
"reliability of water supply due to earthquakes is not a big threat"
Dr. Gilbert was there to review the Economic Sustainability Plan, and I should note that the context of these remarks was not criticizing BDCP, he was criticizing the DPC's Economic Sustainability Plan claim that seismic levee upgrades would improve water supply reliability. But it is interesting that much of the criticism was based on the fact that the seismic risk isn't that big (expected annual loss of $20 million a year if you believe the DRMS earthquake probabilities), and the bigger water supply risks are environmental rulings and water quality.
In my remarks, I chimed in with a few additional relatively unknown findings from DRMS:
- Water export interruptions are only 20% of the economic cost from a large Delta earthquake that floods 10-30 islands. (See earlier post on this here.)
- Water export interruptions are less than 2% of the economic cost from Delta flood events.
- Water export interruptions cause 0% of the loss of life from Delta earthquakes and floods.
Governor Brown needs a better understanding of the risks from natural disaster in the Delta. On an encouraging note, this KPBS report on the climate change conference suggests he is unbiased and knows he still has more to learn about the issue,
The governor said under California law he's not allowed to say which proposal he supports until the report is released.
"In addition, I haven't really read the damn thing. And so I don't have a bias because I don't know what the hell it is," joked Brown.