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The economic value of Trinity River water

International Journal of Water Resources Development

By:
and
DOI: 10.1080/07900629948835

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Abstract

The Trinity River, largest tributary of the Klamath River, has its head-waters in the Trinity Alps of north-central California. After the construction of Trinity Dam in 1963, 90% of the Trinity River flow at Lewiston was moved to the Sacramento River via the Clear Creek Tunnel, a manmade conduit. Hydropower is produced at four installations along the route of Trinity River water that is diverted to the Sacramento River, and power production at three of these installations would diminish if no Trinity River water were diverted to the Sacramento River. After Trinity River water reaches the Sacramento River, it flows toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay. Trinity River water is pumped via Bureau of Reclamation canals and pumps to the northern San Joaquin Valley, where it is used for irrigated agriculture. The social cost of putting more water down the Trinity River is the sum of the value of the foregone consumer surplus from hydropower production as well as the value of the foregone irrigation water. Sharply diminished instream flows have also severely affected the size and robustness of Trinity River salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon runs. Survey data were used to estimate the non-market benefits of augmenting Trinity River instream flows by letting more water flow down the Trinity and moving less water to the Sacramento River. Preservation benefits for Trinity River instream flows and fish runs are $803 million per annum for the scenario that returns the most water down the Trinity River, a value that greatly exceeds the social cost estimate.The Trinity River, largest tributary of the Klamath River, has its headwaters in the Trinity Alps of north-central California. After the construction of Trinity Dam in 1963, 90% of the Trinity River flow at Lewiston was moved to the Sacramento River via the Clear Creek Tunnel, a manmade conduit. Hydropower is produced at four installations along the route of Trinity River water that is diverted to the Sacramento River, and power production at three of these installations would diminish if no Trinity River water were diverted to the Sacramento River. After Trinity River water reaches the Sacramento River, it flows toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay. Trinity River water is pumped via Bureau of Reclamation canals and pumps to the northern San Joaquin Valley, where it is used for irrigated agriculture. The social cost of putting more water down the Trinity River is the sum of the value of the foregone consumer surplus from hydropower production as well as the value of the foregone irrigation water. Sharply diminished instream flows have also severely affected the size and robustness of Trinity River salmon, steelhead, shad and sturgeon runs. Survey data were used to estimate the non-market benefits of augmenting Trinity River instream flows by letting more water flow down the Trinity and moving less water to the Sacramento River. Preservation benefits for Trinity River instream flows and fish runs are $803 million per annum for the scenario that returns the most water down the Trinity River, a value that greatly exceeds the social cost estimate.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
The economic value of Trinity River water
Series title:
International Journal of Water Resources Development
DOI:
10.1080/07900629948835
Volume
15
Issue:
3
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Carfax Publishing Co.
Publisher location:
Abington, Oxon, United Kingdom
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
International Journal of Water Resources Development
First page:
309
Last page:
322