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As we noted, even with a single tunnel, Jerry Brown’s massive $16 billion “WaterFix” for the delta is a financial bust. According to Benefit-Cost Analysis of The California WaterFix, by Jeffrey Michael of the Center for Business and Policy Research at the University of the Pacific, construction costs, estimated at $16 billion, are still more than 2.5 times larger than benefits. So the governor’s tunnel vision is not economically justified under both the base and optimistic scenarios. The digging has yet to begin but the project has already struck corruption.
The Unexpected Complexity of the California WaterFix Project Has Resulted in Signicant Cost Increases, a new report from California’s State Auditor, pegs the planning costs alone at $280 million as of June, 2017. In addition, the audit found that the state Department of Water Resources, “did not follow state law when it replaced the program manager for the conservation and conveyance program.” The DWR selected the Hallmark Group “without advertising a request for qualifications,” and “the cost of DWR’s current contract with Hallmark has tripled from $4.1 million to $13.8 million.”
This amounts to a no-bid multimillion-dollar contract and as whistleblowers told reporters the DWR is handing out no-bid deals to contractors without vetting them. The auditor’s report, anti-tunnel groups charge, confirms that the state is trying to get water customers to pay for the project before they complete their financial analysis. Others oppose the tunnels on environmental grounds, which never seem to be an obstacle when the ruling class wants to spend money. The tunnels are essentially a legacy project for a hereditary, recurring governor who loves to tax, spend and let future generations suffer the consequences. Based on the new span of the Bay Bridge, which came in $5 billion over budget, the costs of governor Brown’s tunnel vision would run some five times higher than current estimates of $17.1 billion.