The drought and state water crisis have amplified calls by water exporters for another dam on the San Joaquin River above Friant Dam near Fresno. More storage does sound reasonable.
But an economic analsis by Jeffrey Michael at University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center found that the costs of the proposed Temperance Flat Dam will be twice the value of the benefits.
Michael found the government has exaggerated the dam’s broad economic benefits to the public. That led Steve Evans, consultant for Friends of the River to call Temperance Flat a “dead-beat dam.”
“These dam projects are supposed to be funded by those who benefit from them,” said Evans, “but instead, bogus public benefits will foist huge costs on the taxpayer for very few real benefits, while a handful of powerful water barons will reap the water supply benefits and pay nearly nothing.”
This project deserves a fair hearing — which is to say I’m not going to dismiss a dam out of hand because Friant proved so disastrous for the San Joaquin River or because dams give me the willies. But this objection rings so true. It would be just like the astute “water barons” to shunt the costs onto taxpayers. It would be just like California’s emasculated regulators and bought-and-paid-for politicians to enable them.