Isenberg: you want more storage? who’s gonna pay?

Phil Isenberg, head of California’s Delta Stewardship Council, gets to the heart of the matter in the discussion of the possibility that California needs more water storage capability:

The council agrees with Assemblyman Logue that water storage is a critical component of any solution to meet the state’s water supply and environmental needs. Over the past several years, almost $20 million has been spent to plan new or expanded reservoirs in the Central Valley. The studies show these projects will be expensive — for example, more than $1 billion to enlarge Shasta Dam. Unfortunately, no water customers who would benefit from new dams have yet stepped forward to share these projects’ costs. (emphasis added)

This gets to the heart of an issue I’ve been thinking about: the possibility that we’ve really seen the last of the West’s great concrete, that we won’t see more dams and conveyances simply because the next ones would be far more expensive than the ones we’ve already built (the low-hanging fruit having been plucked) and the traditional subsidizers, state and federal taxpayers, are tapped out.


  1. I’ve seen the same argument before in California’s electric power needs.

    “We require more power but will not support building more plants and infrastructure within California…”

    The solution of course, was to build some new plants in another state (Arizona) and ship the power into California.

    Sound familiar? Resources follow money. Water is a limited resource…


  2. DG is correct. Kalifornia has been provided with copious water resources largely, but not entirely, with assistance from taxpayers in other states. Water is a scarce resource, especially in the western states. If those who might benefit from an increased supply of water are asked to pay for it, they will look upon such costs (and other factors, of course, such as reliability) in the same manner as more traditional costs, and make decisions accordingly.

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