BDCP rollout: did anyone say anything that surprised you?

Busy with New Mexico’s drought, I’ve been paying scant attention to the rollout of California’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan, AKA the Peripheral Thingie. This is the scheme to build tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to move water south to California farms and cities. It’s the biggest and most interesting US water policy gambit out there right now, and with no particular dog in the fight, I’m just watching with amused wonder as California tries to sort out the most interestingly wicked of common pool resource problems.

Chris Austin, whose Maven’s Notebook has become my favorite landing spot for tracking the situation, quoted a striking comment from John Laird, California’s Natural Resources Secretary. Laird was observing the way the current discussion feels in some way like a replay of California’s fight over the Peripheral Canal 30 years ago:

Back in 1982, when the voters rejected the peripheral canal, “many Californians just locked themselves into what they think about the Delta or water policy out of that experience, but the whole world has changed since then in many, many different ways and they’re still sort of locked in what happened.”

So here’s my question for the California water nerds in the audience – and it’s serious, not rhetorical. In the most recent round of discussions about the BDCP, who said something that surprised you? Or, to put it another way, how has the discussion changed in 30 years?


  1. I would say nothing has surprised me, so far.

    The documents are much more specific and detailed than the previous draft, but we still have other parts to see.

    Probably the real surprises will be in the Effects Analysis, or most likely the EIR.

  2. No surprises yet.
    It seemed as though the tension in the room was heightened as was the push back from the audience.
    I think the advent of the internet and streaming video will result in a much better informed electorate.
    One can only guess how many people who were unable to attend (myself included) watched the webcast.
    In 1982 during the last attempt to build a Peripheral Canal our sources of information were quite limited and as a whole we were far more isolated regionally.
    Now I suspect we will have a far more inclusive and informed debate.
    Hopefully with a similar outcome.

  3. I’ve not been listening, but I WOULD be surprised if S of Delta water users would admit that they “need” the thingie b/c they can’t control demand. It’s their delusion that the thingie will solve any problems…

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