How Much More?
Here is a list of major water losses in our Valley in the last 30 years.
Feb 24, 2020
So Governor Newsom's idea of voluntary agreements to solve the water wars is for farmers and cities to pay "$5 billion for environmental work and habitat restoration and sacrifice 800,000 to 900,000 acre-feet of water." The only reason any sane city or farmer would agree to this 'voluntary' agreement is because the risk of an involuntary agreement is so much worse. If someone has a gun to your head and says shoot yourself or we'll do it for you, which do you choose?
This has the look of a terrible California water bureaucracy art of the deal. The deal started with the State Water Resources Control Board putting out a proposal that would double "the amount of water flowing unimpaired down the Merced, Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta." It was a deal that would have led to countless years of litigation. It unified almost everyone in the region against it, the water agencies, the cities, the people, the farmers, and even the Modesto Bee. They put up a bold fight.
The area fought back so hard newly elected Governor Gavin Newsom announced he would support voluntary agreements instead of shoving this deal down their throats without their approval. There were economic studies showing how much damage the original proposal would have done to the area, so community leaders were glad to try to make a deal. The problem with a compromise with the Water Board is that they have all the power. What they're telling you is they can do whatever they want, so if you don't want their proposal you're still going to get something you don't want. It will still be bad, but, it'll be better. That's how we get to 900,000 acre-feet and $5-billion.
This voluntary deal is to voluntarily commit economic and resource suicide. And we must remind everyone that this latest de-watering of the Valley comes with a 30-year history. Here is a list of major water losses in our Valley in the last 30 years:
1992: Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) - dedicated about 1,400,000 acre-feet per year (enough to irrigate over 500,000 acres or serve 2,000,000 valley households) from the federal Central Valley Project to fish and wildlife purposes. Result: no improvement in fish populations
1993: The Endangered Species Act listing of the winter run Chinook salmon stripping away another 250,000 to 800,000 AF/yr. Result: no improvement in fish populations.
1994: The ESA listing of the delta smelt. Result: no improvement in fish populations.
1995: The CalFed Bay/Delta program that collectively stripped the CVP and State Water Project of another 1,100,000 AF/yr. Result: no improvement in fish populations.
Since 1995: There’s been even more regulatory actions the sum total of which have removed over 5,000,000 AF/yr. – more than the entire capacity of Lake Shasta or 10 times that of Millerton Lake. Result: no improvement in fish populations.
2006: The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement takes several hundred thousands of acre feet from farmers.
President Trump is trying to help farmers get a few hundred thousand acre feet of water through the delta pumps with d biological opinions on endangered species. The Governor is trying to squeeze 900,000 acre feet out of cities and farmers to put back into the Delta. The Governor also says if the President is successful he might cut back on the state pumps that would hurt Valley farmers and the people of Southern California even more who also rely on the state water project.
We would hope the Governor would look at the water history of the Valley, say enough is enough, and work with the President to help farmers and cities deal with the coming Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. We are going to need all the surface water we can get or things are going to get very ugly very soon.
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