Not so fast: Consumers and activists ask who will pay for Peripheral Canal?

  • Published on May 17th, 2012

proposed routes for California's peripheral canalSouthern California consumer and environmental advocates will hold a news conference in Los Angeles Thursday, May 17, to challenge the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) to support an independent cost-benefit analysis of the proposed multibillion Peripheral Canal or Tunnel.

“Who would get the water and who would pay the bill, which is now estimated to be $20 billion to upwards of $50 billion?” asked Conner Everts, Executive Director for the Southern California Watershed Alliance. “MWD opposes an independent cost-benefit analysis. But it’s MWD customers and other water district ratepayers in the southland who would pay the bill.”

Speakers include Conner Everts, Executive Director, Southern California Watershed Alliance; Garrick Ruiz, Water Campaign Manager, Green LA; and Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director, Food & Water Watch.

The event will be held today at 10:30 am outside the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), 700 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012-2944.

The Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on April 24 voted 10 to 2 to approve legislation requiring an independent cost-benefit analysis before committing the public to pay tens of billions of dollars to build a peripheral canal or tunnel to divert more Delta water.

A coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups and Delta cities and counties backed the legislation, AB 2421 (B. Berryhill), while agribusiness groups, the California Chamber of Commerce and southern California water agencies including the Metropolitan Water District opposed the bill.

The bill’s fate now rests with Assembly member Felipe Fuentes and Speaker John Perez, who will largely determine whether AB 2421 advances or dies by May 25.

The bill “requires that an independent third party costs and benefits of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) be submitted to the Legislature prior to the BDCP’s inclusion in the Delta Plan, or by June 30, 2013, whichever comes first.”

The legislation also requires that the third party conducting the analysis shall be chosen by one representative each from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Delta Protection Commission, and the State Water Contractors, Assemblyman Bill Berryhill (R-Stockton), told the Committee. “A fair and balanced analysis is all we want,” said Berryhill.

Before the vote, Committee Chair Jared Huffman said he believes “the public is entitled to know if it is investing in something that is on a path toward success.”

Southern California ratepayers have expressed strong support for the legislation, since they fear the construction of the canal could increase their water rates.

“Urban water users would pay billions of dollars for a massive peripheral canal or tunnel,” Everts, told the committee. “Those who’ll pay deserve to know how much they’d pay and how much benefit would go to those ratepayers.”

Not only would urban water users pay billions of dollars for the canal, but Delta advocates say the construction of the peripheral canal or tunnel will hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River winter and spring run chinook salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, Sacramento splittail and other imperiled fish species. The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is the largest and most significant estuary on the West Coast of the Americas – it is considered the ecological heart of California.

For more information, contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546, steve [at]; Twitter: @shopcraft; Conner Everts, 310.394.6162 [1] ext. #111; connere [at]; Adam Scow, ascow [at]

About the Author

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento who focuses on California's water issues, a healthy environment for the salmon fishery of the Northwest, and the attempts by big agriculture and big oil to hog all the water.