As a native San Franciscan who cares deeply about the environment, I’m writing with a clean water and energy proposal that I believe would simultaneously impact this and several other issues faced by our state. With 20+ years in the building industry and experience in offshore oil drilling in Alaska and South America, I follow water/energy issues closely but have yet to see my proposal explored in the public domain despite its practicality and wide-scale benefits.
Using Federal, State and bond money, California should embark on its most progressive public works project to date by covering the Central Valley portion of the California Aqueduct with photovoltaic solar panels while simultaneously installing windmills along the same route. This project would leverage state-owned infrastructure and employ existing technologies to accomplish the following:
Water: Reduce the enormous amount of water currently lost to evaporation throughout the Central Valley.
Ecological Restoration: Reinvigorate fish stocks and promote a healthy ecosystem in the Delta, Bay and coastal areas by rerouting surplus water flows back through the Delta.
Energy: Harness the favorable weather conditions of the Central Valley to provide untold megawatts of safe, clean, state-owned-and-controlled, renewable energy. Construction would be largely powered by the project itself and the combination of solar and wind power would provide high and predictable output.
Jobs: Create thousands of new construction, manufacturing, engineering and related jobs.
Security: Create a decentralized energy source that could be hard-wired to power vital public services that are currently susceptible to hacking and large-scale disruption.
There are problems inherent in other water and energy approaches currently on the table. The proposed Peripheral Canal would spend millions of taxpayer dollars to divert yet more water from the Bay, simply adding to its environmental degradation. The amount of water to be gained by relining the Aqueduct would be incremental in comparison to what’s currently lost to evaporation. And the various energy proposals under consideration either pose serious environmental threats, involve outrageous expense and years of development, or result in private – but not public – power.