California Gov. Jerry Brown recently proposed a massive $16 billion plan to build 35-mile long water tunnels to help ship water from the Sacramento River in northern California to farms and municipalities in central and southern California. But is this really a viable solution?
Are Water Tunnels in California’s Future?
The jury is still very much out in terms of whether or not Gov. Brown’s proposal will ultimately be approved. The proposal is the most ambitious California water project in over 50 years; because of this, the engineering is complicated and the price tag is high. Multiple water districts who are involved will ultimately need to approve the details of the project, and whether or not this happens is a question mark.
A large farm association has already pulled out of the deal (after spending millions of dollars and 10 years developing plans and cost estimates), although the group is open to a scaled-down version. But farmers in general might be tough to sway, especially farmers in the northern part of the state, as they are worried that the water tunnels will literally dry up northern California’s water resources in a few decades.
On the other hand, supporters of the project insist the water tunnels will help stabilize flow and boost water supply reliability. The bottom line, they say, is that water deliveries from the north to the south will decline each year unless something is done.
What Does this have to do with Emergency Preparedness?
It is a very interesting debate that definitely has implications for utility emergency preparedness in the state. For example, proper flow and distribution of water is necessary to effectively fight forest fires. Proper water infrastructure is also necessary to help mitigate an act of water contamination terrorism, to help slow the spread of disease, and to help deliver water to disaster-stricken areas. Simply put, water is the foundation of survival. And if water tunnels can help fortify this foundation, I’m all for it!