Did Jerry Brown endorse a peripheral canal yesterday?

Or did the AP botch the story?

A University of the Pacific professor who blogs at Valley Economy wants to know.

It's a great question. Here's the sentence from the Brown website that the AP read as an endorsement of the "alternative conveyance," also known in the past as the peripheral canal.

Support conveyance and storage investments, such as a peripheral canal or tunnel, that provide a net benefit in ecosystem and water quality conditions and where the beneficiaries pay for the benefits they receive

Further, Brown's website makes amply clear that any such conveyance should be paid for by those who will most benefit, and any such conveyance must benefit the state and environment as a whole:

The beneficiaries – or users – of water infrastructure projects should pay their share of the costs of those projects. The state should invest in infrastructure improvements providing benefits to the general public or the environment.

In the minds of water experts such as Peter Gleick, the peripheral canal would fail both tests. And, as a spokesperson for Meg Whitman pointed out, Brown did not back the water bond that was pulled off the ballot last summer by supporters such as Gov. Schwarzenegger, who saw it was facing defeat this year. 

So why is the AP so certain Brown wants to build the canal?

Well, although it's not stated clearly in the story, it turns out Brown did say he supported such a canal in the September 28 debate with Whitman:

"Brown said he supports the idea of a peripheral canal to ship more water to Southern California but supports more water conservation. He implied Southern Californians should pay for the new delivery system."

"The beneficiary has to pay, not the general taxpayer," Brown said.

His support for the proposal is nuanced, but sounds pretty clear. 

Also noteworthy: the environmentally-minded chairman of the vast SoCal water wholesaler known as Metropolitan Water District was replaced this week, apparently voted out because he opposed the same water bond. Voted in as chairman is an engineer and former Army Colonel named John V. Foley. 


Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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