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Water Folly

The environmentalists don't want to admit that moving water to where they live is just as problematic as moving it to where we live.

Aug 23, 2013

An editorial in the Vacaville Reporter yesterday said "it is folly to keep trying to take water from where it occurs naturally and send it to places where it doesn't. Southern California and the Central Valley are, by nature, deserts. Trying to keep them lush and fertile by relying on dwindling supplies of Delta water disregards the lessons of Mother Nature." Many in Northern California act as if Delta water belongs to them and not to anyone in the rest of the state. Many of these communities are part of the same State Water Project that farmers and SoCal residents rely on.

The SWP serves cities in Napa and Solano counties through the North Bay Aqueduct, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties through the Coastal Aqueduct and communities in Alameda and Santa Clara counties through the South Bay Aqueduct. The project is operated by the California Department of Water Resources.

In addition, the Hetch Hetchy Project transports Tuolumne River water 156 miles from the Central Sierra to San Francisco and peninsula cities.

All these areas move water from where it occcurs naturally and send it to places where it doesn't. I guess we all are involved in the folly. The environmentalists don't want to admit that moving water to where they live is just as problematic as moving it to where we live. No one, it seems, really knows from whence their water comes.

Why don't we have the entire state vote? Vote up or down. Here's the choice: We can let all the water flow through the delta and out to sea unused by anyone, or we can use it for our cities and farms. Will the cities in Napa and Solano counties, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, cities in Alameda and Santa Clara counties, San Francisco and peninsula cities vote to leave water where it occurs naturally and not send it to places where it doesn't?

We're willing to put it to a vote. Are you?

Editorial: Delta plan misses main point

Published by The Vacaville Reporter
 
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan took a dramatic turn last week, acknowledging some of the concerns of Delta farmers by re-routing a proposed massive tunnel system to affect a smaller area and stay mostly on public land.

That the concerns of those who live in and rely on the Delta are being acknowledged as valid is a welcome change of pace. But the whole process still sidesteps the main point: It is folly to keep trying to take water from where it occurs naturally and send it to places where it doesn't.

Southern California and the Central Valley are, by nature, deserts. Trying to keep them lush and fertile by relying on dwindling supplies of Delta water disregards the lessons of Mother Nature.

For a prime example, look no further than the Owens Valley, which decades ago was raided of its water by Los Angeles. Today, Owens Lake has become a lake bed and Mono Lake is a mess because more water continues to be taken out than can be replenished.

If less snow in the Sierras and less rainfall in general is a trend, it seems probable that the Delta will have less water flowing into it than in the past. The idea that it can be tapped in the same way as it has been -- or even more so -- bodes badly for its ecological health.

It's time to stop trying to siphon off Delta water and start focusing on other ways of getting water where it's needed. Start with conservation. Those who live in a desert shouldn't expect to have grassy green lawns or grow water-intensive crops.

Desalinization -- removing salt from seawater -- is another promising option, given the state's long coastline. Yes, it's still prohibitively expensive, but if more effort were put into developing it, the price would come down.

And what about developing more water storage, so that the rain that does fall can be captured before it runs into the ocean? In recent years, some have proposed building underground storage systems rather than dams, and that seems like a great idea. But building a pair of 30-mile-long, $25.7 billion tunnels to divert water around the Delta does not.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg was right on Friday when he said that the new route for the tunnel system announced last week doesn't get at the fundamental problem.

"What really needs to be discussed and resolved are the operating conditions for the Delta over the next five decades," Steinberg said.

The Legislature needs to re-engage, he says, and make sure all of the key players have a voice in what happens.

It's also critical to have the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office study the project. It's the public's best chance for an objective assessment of costs and benefits -- if there are any.

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