BDCP: An Expensive Lesson Learned

Contrary to the common belief, the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) actually did accomplish something worthwhile. Although the BDCP process was certainly flawed, the project itself proved to be infeasible. After four and a half years it demonstrated that the conveyance facility the water exporters had preselected, e.g. the 15,000 cubic feet per second canal or tunnel, just would not work. Most notably, during the duration of the BDCP process, the estimated cost of the facility skyrocketed from $4 billion to over $12 billion; and the estimate is still rising. In addition to the sticker shock, the BDCP Steering Committee could not show the project would actually improve ecosystem conditions; and a long list of uncertainties would keep the water exporters from getting the 50 year water supply reliability they sought. 

Thankfully the new administration has the opportunity to salvage BDCP. The Planning and Conservation League looks forward to working with the new administration in revising the BDCP process in transparent, open and inclusive manner. Our intuition is that a phased approach done cooperatively with Delta interests is most likely to succeed; and, unlike the current estimated cost of the BDCP process, that insight did not cost $140 million.