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Most Important Paragraph From Fresno Hearing

If an environmental water release is not accomplishing the task for which it is being released, then it should be made available to the other water users.

Mar 20, 2014

The Congressional Field Hearing in Fresno had testimony from various people involved in the California water wars. One of those testifying was one of our board members, Kole Upton, who introduced a concept that we've been talking about in some of our newsletters. Here is part of his testimony and the key paragraph:

Kole suggests that part of the revision of the Endangered Species Act incorporate "a proposed law requiring environmental water releases be held to the same standards for efficiency and accountability as required of urban and agricultural uses. Water is a public resource and should not be wasted by any user. So, if an environmental water release is not accomplishing the task for which it is being released, then it should be made available to the other water users so it may be beneficially used for society."

One of the questions directed from the panel of congressmen to representatives from the governor's office and the State Water Resources Control Board was how effective the water policies of helping the delta and the smelt have been. Has the environment improved, has the smelt population increased? Answer: dead silence. Kole's concept is simple: if environmentalists take the water, they should be able to demonstrate that it's doing some good. If they can't then they can't have the water.

Farmers can demonstrate exactly how water benefits them. There are county ag crop reports that show how many acres of how many crops are grown, how much water each crop takes, etc. We can tell you exactly how much water it takes to grow one grape or one almond. But, environmentalists don't have to show any benefit whatsoever. That's got to change. This is an excellent point that can put farmers on the offensive, instead of constantly on the defensive.

Can environmentalists show that even one delta smelt has benefited from their policies? If there are no specific goals, how do we know if we've met them?

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