Jerry Cadagan: Conservation costs less than dams

01/04/2014 12:00 AM

01/04/2014 7:40 PM

In its editorial “It feels like a drought, governor” (Opinions, Dec. 23, A9) The Modesto Bee said that water conservation is important, “but so is more storage.” But The Bee didn’t address the questions of how much new storage projects would cost, how they would be paid for, who would foot the bill and whether there are less expensive alternatives.

First, it must be remembered that storage projects don’t make it rain or snow. So if we build a new reservoir and stay in drought mode we have nothing to show for the investment. And, if every few years the reservoir is filled and the water is sold, do we come anywhere near recovering the investment? Who makes that investment? It’s popular these days to give lip service to the concept of “beneficiary pays.” The fact is our agricultural industry uses 80 percent of the water consumed in California. Are farmers willing to pay 80 percent of the $2 billion to $3 billion cost of a new reservoir project?

The Bee’s interest in this subject is commendable. Hopefully, The Bee will seriously look at the relative costs of new storage compared to 21st-century options like water recycling and other conservation measures.



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