BDCP Portfolio Debate
Sep 17, 2013
Greg Gartrell —
There are in fact two preposterous arguments being made by the Secretary and Dr. Meral (who has even had the Governor repeat them) on the flooded island scenario. The first is the absurd notion that a megastorm will flood many delta islands filling them with seawater. Dr. Meral should know better; he was around in 1983, the wettest year in the 20th century. The entire San Francisco Bay was full of fresh water. Any island flooding in such circumstances will fill the islands with fresh, not sea, water. The megastorm in the 1860's resulted in a 400 mile freshwater lake in the Central Valley. Sacramento, Ventura and parts of San Diego were abandoned because of flooding ( such storms will hit the entire state). Why anyone would repeat such nonsense that delta island flooding during massive storms would result in the south delta pumps being shut down because of seawater intrusion (that somehow occurs when the flood is putting freshwater out to the Farralons) is baffling.
The second bit of nonsense is that once flooded the south delta will stay salty for up to ten years. Why? Will the earthquake stop the rivers from flowing?
In July 2010 the BDCP presented to the Steering Committee (remember that?) the results of their study on a massive levee failure under an earthquake scenario. They modeled the delta salinity conditions following sudden levee failures on the 15 most vulnerable islands under extreme dry hydrological conditions (October 1990, a critically dry period that extended into 1991 and beyond). One would expect a long period of high salinity in the south delta (the BDCP folks sure did). What they found was that a small storm that occurred in December 1990 was sufficient to freshen the channels: instead of a shutdown lasting 2 years, the south delta channels were fresh again in 4 months. That has never stopped the nonsense unfortunately: never let facts get in the way of a good tall tale.
Numerous studies by DWR, CCWD, and the BDCP have shown that leaving islands flooded in the interior of the delta (i.e. not repairing levees) will reduce salinity intrusion (moving X2 westward), not I crease it. So where exactly does this nonsensical argument that water will be cut off for ten years (or even 2 years) come from? Where are the studies that back up this 10 year claim made by the Secretary and Dr. Meral? If they have them, let's see them. The probability of the earthquake scenario occurring any year is about 2 or 3%. If it occurs in a wet year the delta fills with freshwater or is quickly freshened. To occur under circumstances that result in a year or more outage further reduces the probability. Sunding's analysis shows the cost is overall quite small. Time to end the silly claims and focus on real issues.
Paris, 16 septembre 2013