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Editor's Corner: Billions of dollars thrown away

It looks as though the state no longer will allow maintenance of levies in the Bay Delta, and let flood waters run where they may — just as it was in the good old days.

Don’t expect any good to come of that, because there will be times, after the levies presently in place have been allowed to deteriorate, when massive floods will lay waste to the state’s water system, which depends on the Bay Delta for supplies of fresh water.

That is a water system, by the way, that has provided irrigation for agriculture and sustenance for cities. It is worth billions of dollars, and is being thrown away.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s tunnel plan, which presumably would mitigate the losses caused by allowing the levies to deteriorate, looks good on paper, but there’s a catch: The tunnels haven’t been built yet, and it will be years, maybe even decades before they are put to use. Construction of huge public projects such as the tunnels moves slowly in these days of construction by litigation.

Just look at the California High-Speed Rail System that was meant to solve many of California’s transportation problems by moving passengers between the Los Angeles Basin and the Bay Area. The project is way behind schedule and way over budget. Bits of it are being built — right here in Madera County, for example — but it could be another decade before those bits are connected and trains are picking up and delivering passengers over the system at 200 miles an hour.

The Legislature this year passed a huge, new tax to improve the state’s roads, but it will be years before we see any benefits from that work. California, despite having the nation’s highest fuel taxes, just doesn’t seem able to build new highways or maintain present ones in the systematic ways other states do.

And finally, even though Temperance Flat Dam seems closer to becoming a reality, we aren’t likely to see it begun any time soon. Even though the dam makes sense environmentally and economically in every respect, there are those who will do everything they can to stop it, which will make it a hard project to finish, as well.

We seem to be tearing California apart and/or keeping it from being improved for no good reason.

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