Monday, October 7, 2019

Finally, some exciting news about water in California.

New $100M Innovation Hub to Accelerate R&D for a Secure Water Future: A research consortium led by Berkeley Lab, along with three other national labs, will head a DOE desalination hub to provide secure and affordable water

I would suggest the Governor borrow a few quotes from the LBL news release about NAWI when he announces a bold new vision for California water priorities.  For example, "NAWI’s vision for creating a stable and resilient water supply for agriculture, industry, and communities involves a circular water economy, where water is treated to fit-for-purpose standards and reused locally, rather than transporting freshwater long distances."

This big announcement is $100 million over 5 years.  How much does California spend on water technology R&D?  I know we will spend more than that just on planning for a single tunnel in the Delta, that's before the $10+ billion on the thing itself.  California will spend more than that on operations of the Delta Stewardship Council over the same period.  The state will spend ten times this much subsidizing the so-called "ecosystem benefits" of a single dam.

It's nice to have the headquarters of this new consortium in California, but there could be much more of this activity in the state.  California could totally dominate R&D, new technology development, and commercialization of alternative water technology with a relatively small amount of investment and policies to push local adoption.  I strongly believe supporting and adopting new technologies should be the focus of the state's future water vision, including any future water bonds. This would create lots of high-paying jobs, as we develop technologies to solve our own problems that have broad applicability and worldwide commercialization potential.  Most importantly, it could create new water in a sustainable and cost-effective manner while diversifying our sources so we are more resilient to climate change and natural disasters.

I find the current direction of state water policy very uninspiring.  Eventually, the administration will figure out that a single-tunnel in the Delta isn't viable, and that putting green window-dressing on last centuries concrete mega-infrastructure visions isn't very effective - economically or environmentally. It's time for a new vision focused on developing and deploying new technologies.

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