May 23, 2019
Why is Mother Nature's abundant rainfall and snow melt in California going to the ocean instead of being stored for our next drought? Since this water year began on Oct. 1, 2018, we have seen a year's worth of water for 221,280,000 (221M) people flow out to sea. A small fraction of this water was needed to prevent saltwater intrusion into the Delta. The rest was wasted and will not be used in homes and businesses, to grow food, to replenish groundwater, to arrest subsidence, or to improve well-water quality. But why is this happening?
1. Environmental laws require a certain amount of water go straight to the ocean without being diverted, to improve water quality for fish in the Delta. Improving water quality is a fancy euphemism for diluting pollution. The Delta and the S.F. Bay area discharge billions of gallons of wastewater daily, some of it partially treated, and some not treated at all when it accidentally over spills. Due to modern low-flush toilets, raw sewage is now as much as 437\% more concentrated when it overflows. Nearly four million gallons of untreated sewage has been spilled this water year alone. Toxic storm water runoff is also a major contributor to Delta water contamination in which imperiled fish are forced to live and die within.
2. Our state has blocked building any new, major surface-water storage for the last 40 years. California has just a few rainy months out of the year to store as much water as it can. This year, and in the 2016-2017 wet season, our reservoirs were filled so full that water had to be released to preserve space for flood protection. We lost several years worth of water for the 25 million people who rely on the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project for their water security, because we had no place to store the water. In 2014, 68\% of the voters thought they were voting to fund the building of new storage when they passed the $7.5B Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act Water Bond. But Gov. Brown's appointed Water Commission members refused to award enough money to projects like Temperance Flat and Sites Reservoir, leaving them with inadequate funding to put shovels in the ground. President Trump has committed $20M to plan the raising of Shasta Dam, a federal project, but California is lobbing expensive court battles with taxpayer dollars to oppose increasing the amount of water Shasta can hold.
3. The export pumps, used for capturing and saving fresh water before it reaches the sea, are constantly ratcheted back from operating at their full capacity. The Biological Opinions (notice they're called "opinions") mandate triggers that reduce pumping in order to, according to their opinion, save salmon and smelt. The Bio Ops were largely based on science conducted in 2004, and have completely failed to protect endangered species. No endangered fish populations have ever rebounded by this practice of reduced pumping. Last year President Trump signed an executive memo to review and the Bio Ops. The new assessment has been completed, and the new Opinions based on the best available science are due to come out about June 15th. California is currently trying to pass legislation, SB1, that will keep the old Opinions in tact.
4. Creating a man-made water shortage provides countless opportunities to grow government agencies, employ government workers who produce nothing, fund studies, receive grant monies, invent regulations and collect fines, raise water rates, implement new taxation, bolster a theory of climate change, and oh so much more. It puts our government in charge of our nation's greatest asset which is the land that grows half of America's food supply. There is nothing worth controlling that is more powerful than this.
Learn more here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CaliforniaWaterForFoodMovement/
Graphic by The Water Agency, Inc.