Jerome Handley: Forget tunnels, try desalination plants

January 18, 2014 

The Bay Delta pipeline and habitat restoration plan will streamline (and increase) the conveyance of Sacramento River water to Southern California. It is unlikely the proposed 100,000-acre wetlands restoration will ever be successful; there is already precious little water available to maintain the existing estuary and fish migration.

With the population increasing, agriculture expanding into the foothills, groundwater tables dropping and dire predictions for climate change, the state needs more water security.

For about the same amount of money as the pipeline, we could build five 500 million-gallon-per-day solar-powered desalinization plants. Sooner or later it will have to be done. Several much smaller plants are already operating in California. The governor’s pet megaproject needs to bolster the economy, create jobs and in this case produce more fresh water – not just move around existing supplies.

Solar power generation has matured, as has seawater desalinization. Many nations are moving, by necessity, in this direction. The time is ripe. Let’s put our money into something that will protect and expand the economy. The Delta tunnel and it’s dubious benefits could be deferred indefinitely.

JEROME HANDLEY

Turlock

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