Dec 14, 2018
By Wayne Western Jr.
California Water: To Be Productive, Or to Stop Progress?
I think all questions of who the State Water Resources Control Board are have been answered. I am not surprised they decided to move forward with their latest s to the Bay-Delta Plan. Most now know that includes taking 40\% of unimpaired flows from the San Joaquin River, and redirecting it straight to the ocean. But what you really just witnessed, was a Board of Bureaucrats, placed on that Board by agenda-driven politicians, to take their own agenda to a new level.
The State Water Resources Control Board is truly an out-of-control bureaucracy. If you thought this Board would appreciate a massive effort of cooperation to help the environment, industry, and people, you are wrong. It is painfully obvious the environment and fish are not the issue. They soundly chose conflict over collaboration. They ignored collaboration that included between 700,000 - 1,000,000 acre-feet of water and almost $2 Billion. Instead, we will use the state’s entire water infrastructure system to test a scientific hypothesis, while disregarding the sustainability of humans. And it will be funded by the humans being ignored.
Everyone knows managing water for more Delta outflow is nothing new and has produced nothing in the arena of fish populations. With the adoption of their plan, we do know communities are going to suffer, businesses will close, and less food will be grown.
What we saw play out in the public eye were water users, the Department of Water Resources, and Department of Fish and Wildlife engaging in voluntary agreements hoping to thwart the most draconian regulations of a resource the United States has ever seen. But while agencies and departments can engage in “agreements,” usually only a handful of people are making the decisions.
I thought several remarks during the day were fairly underlying and allowed one to know the outcome long before the decision, which happened late into the evening. Board Member Esquivel stated early in the process, “Negotiating voluntary agreements is not an alternative to the State Water Resources Control Board moving forward.” Chuck Bonham, Director of California Department of Fish and Wildlife requested, “If the State Water Resources Control Board adopts, create a safe place for Tuolumne parties.” Let’s be clear. In this case, safe parties on the Tuolumne is San Francisco. These voluntary agreements were put before the SWRCB the day of the hearing. The decision was made before they all had breakfast that day.
At the same time, an agreement for the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project was being hashed out and completed between the USBR and DWR. I have not seen the new agreement at this point so I won’t comment on its content. Surely, everyone realizes the SWRCB had no interest in the outcome of that agreement either.
I do, however, feel it is important to point out a few things in the previous agreement, signed November 24th, 1986. It is titled, “Agreement between the United States and The State of California for Coordinated Operation of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.” Under Article 2 of this agreement, the last couple of paragraphs seem fitting 32 years later. It reads:
“It is in the best interest of the United States and the State to agree on the use of water rights as set forth in this agreement rather than litigate such uses as between the two projects and potentially all other water users in the Central Valley of California.”
And, “Both the State and the U.S. are dedicated to utilizing their existing and future water conservation facilities so as to provide the maximum benefits to the people of California and the Nation and believe that through the coordinated and cooperative operation of the State and Federal facilities, those benefits can be maximized.”
Under Article 11, titled “Delta Standards”, which we know are established by the SWRCB, it reads, “Should the United States determine that the new Delta Standards are inconsistent with the Congressional directives, then the U.S. shall promptly request the Department of Justice to bring an action for the purposes of determining the applicability of the new Delta Standards to the Central Valley Project.”
As I mentioned, I have not seen the new agreement which is just days old, but thought folks might like to know what sort of things were in the previous agreement. Very pertinent.
Back to Wednesday’s meeting. While discussing voluntary agreements, Board Member D’Adamo asked the most important question of the day. “What happens to the agreements if we adopt?” She was asking representatives from the Sacramento Valley. Their answer was, “As far as the Sac Valley is concerned, if the plan is adopted, suits will be filed, and momentum by water users will be lost.” They weren’t referring to momentum behind filed lawsuits. They were referring to momentum behind voluntary agreements brought on by extortion.
I think we keep getting back to the same things we have been mentioning here for a few years. It is not about fish. It is about control. They need what you have for a couple of reasons. When I say you, I am talking to you California Agriculture. First, they do not want you here. They realize they may not be able to get rid of all of you, so they have set forth a plan to consolidate you into a few. You’re easier to deal with and after mass consolidation. The few remaining will bow and pay for anything they feel they need. Do you think they are worried about where their food comes from? No, they are not worried. They do not care where food comes from and they do not care about the national security California Farmers and Ranchers provide.
Second, we must redefine progress. We have a tendency to see progress in the tons and truckloads of products leaving our ranches which are on their way to feed people around the world. Progress to people such as the State Water Resources Control Board is to move water from production of food, fiber, and dairy, into avenues that enable them to further “gather” a population. What is left over is sent to the ocean in the name of environmental justice. Ironically, their goal is the opposite of progress. Their goal is to stop progress.
This Bureaucracy does not see the United States as a nation. They see their California as its own nation and feel they have a right to control everything within no matter the damage caused. They are trying to get to a place, and however they get there, whoever they harm, and whatever gets in their way, is simply a cost they are willing to pay in order to reach it. They were all appointed by Jerry Brown who certainly has his own agenda. I wonder if even he is surprised at the level of radicalism he sees today?
But there is still one problem. This is in fact the United States of America. Interesting days and months lie ahead. Courtrooms are about to get busy. Lawyers are about to get busy. And judges are about to hear the words “State Water Resources Control Board” ad nauseam. It is exactly where we need to be.
This Board will not stop. The cooperation and collaboration you offer does nothing to help this Board reach their goals. Water users and the State Water Resources Control Board are not trying to accomplish the same things as far as water use is concerned. With that, I hope Board Chair Felicia Marcus finds herself looking up for once, listening to the way things are going to be, rather than looking down, telling us the way it is.