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It's Not So Complicated!

We have to face the fact that Democrats and Republicans have two very different views on water policy

Mar 07, 2011


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MARCH 7 2011

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Board of Directors

Denis Prosperi
Chester Andrew
Bob Smittcamp
Russ Waymire
John "Dusty" Giacone
Joe Marchini
Mark Watte
Kole Upton
Piedad Ayala
Tom Barcellos
Jim Walls

It's Not So Complicated!

As Congressman Devin Nunes points out in the article below (State's Regulators Letting Delta Water Go To Waste), water policy in California isn't as complex as some would have us believe.  If environmentalists can make us think it's too complicated for the 'comprehension of mere mortals' maybe we won't continue to seek the truth.  But, despite their efforts to get us sidetracked, we shall persevere with our quest to find and report the truth. 

Congressman Nunes is responding to a Sacramento Bee editorial (Reckless House GOP Reopens Water Wounds), in which the Bee argues that Republicans are 'using the must-pass bill funding the federal government' to undermine previous water agreements that have been years in the making.  What we at Families Protecting the Valley see is Republicans fighting for what they believe in just like Democrats and environmentalists fight for what they believe in, using every means at their disposal to do so.  Remember, all of the lawsuits for the last 20-years, which started the water wars, have been filed by the enviros. 

The Bee quotes Senator Diane Feinstein saying "House Republicans seem to think there are simple solutions to California's water problems. That just isn't the case … . These are complex problems, and they require nuanced solutions."  This looks like a perfectly good 'nuanced solution' to us.  And don't think they wouldn't use every means at their disposal to get their way if they could, and they have.  We have to face the fact that Democrats and Republicans have two very different views on water policy and both sides will fight as hard as they can to win this war. 

In the second article below (Editorial:  PPIC Has Logical Water Plan, But Lacks Vision For More Storage), the Contra Costa Times reveals the real problem with California water policy:  we need more storage.  Not real complicated.  Not too nuanced.

State's Regulators Letting Delta Water Go To Waste 

Re "Reckless House GOP opens water wounds" (Editorial, Feb. 20):

In its editorial criticizing House Republicans, The Bee recently suggested that current management of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is without controversy or is somehow the result of a collective best practice. However, existing California water policy is neither "nuanced" nor "balanced," nor is it so complicated as to defy the comprehension of mere mortals who live, work and vote in the Golden State. Radical environmentalists and their allies in government prefer to speak using these terms to deflect attention from the truth.

Today, 78 percent of all water entering the Delta is flushed out to the ocean, depriving California of enormous amounts of fresh water that could help restore the state's economic vitality. Yet despite all of this lost water, a preliminary report by the Delta Stewardship Council suggests some species may not recover and, according to the EPA, more species are in danger, not fewer. This represents overwhelming indictment of the junk science used to justify nearly two decades of water diversions.

The science used by Delta regulators is so bad that a federal judge recently ruled against the government in a landmark lawsuit. Yet the environmental left continues to wage a merciless attack on water users – particularly San Joaquin Valley farmers. They are shamelessly using debunked science to advocate the forced retirement of 1.3 million acres of farmland – a land mass nearly three times as large as the state of Rhode Island.

House Republicans see the long-term consequences of current policy as both dangerous and counter to the public interest. Even worse, the sacrifices demanded are doing nothing to improve the environment. However, if The Bee, Bay Area liberals and radical environmentalists are unhappy with wasting a mere 78 percent of the Delta's fresh water to the ocean and want more, they should sacrifice their own supply.

The city of San Francisco could be asked to contribute to the effort by giving up its drinking water, which comes from Hetch Hetchy via pipeline – entirely bypassing the Delta. Sacramento too could be called upon to make sacrifices at the altar of the environmental movement.

Will The Bee support the removal of the hundreds of miles of flood control levees and reservoirs that are the root cause of the Delta's 160-year transformation? If so, please don't call FEMA to rescue you from your rooftop when the floodwaters come.

Editorial:  PPIC Has Logical Water Plan, But Lacks Vision For More Storage

Contra Costa Times editorial

PERHAPS CALIFORNIA would be better able to solve its problems with water if we treated it like whiskey. As Mark Twain reportedly said, "Whiskey is for drinking; water is for fighting over."

Few issues are more contentious than water policy, as the history of California has shown. That is especially true today with the state's large and growing population, the failure to build major new storage facilities for decades and the prohibitive cost of any large-scale public works projects during a prolonged weak economy.

It is with a recognition of this reality that the Public Policy Institute of California compiled its latest report on how to manage the state's water resources.

There are four key areas on which the PPIC focused on: reconciling environmental and human water uses; improving management of water supply, quality and flood control; balancing competing uses; and upgrading and integrating government institutions. In other words, stop fighting.

That's a tall order, but an essential one if Californians are to make better use of a limited and varying supply of water.

To protect the environment, the PPIC study concluded that water management should focus on improving large ecosystems rather than individual restoration projects. This approach makes more sense, but it requires sufficient flows of fresh water that also is sought by agriculture and urban users.

The report urges an increase in urban conservation to a per-capita use 30 percent below 2000 levels. More groundwater storage and better water transfers are also sought by the PPIC. However, there are major obstacles to both, including legal disputes over underground storage rights, local resistance to water sales and new restrictions on Delta exports.

To reduce pollution, the PPIC advocates focusing on specific sources of pollutants rather than dealing with irrigation and stormwater runoff. This poses a major challenge, especially to agriculture. The report also suggests using a cap and trade system for pollutants.

To limit the risk of floods, the PPIC says new development should be limited in flood-prone areas and that flood insurance should be expanded.

The report also calls for better regulation of groundwater by giving the State Water Resources Control Board jurisdiction to all groundwater extraction. This would require a measure by the Legislature, which has been reluctant to act.

To facilitate water transfers, the PPIC favors creation of a statewide clearinghouse similar to the independent system operator for the state's electricity grid to manage the water market in an integrated manner.

Finally, the PPIC report urges the creation of far better information systems to analyze water use, flows, quality and costs, with greater reliance on experts in science, technology and economics.

All of the above recommendations by the PPIC make sense and would improve water distribution, water quality, flood protection and the environment.

What is woefully lacking in the report is any plan to increase water supply and reliability through increased storage beyond groundwater aquifers.

Unless there is a commitment to significantly increase water storage in new reservoirs, which appears unlikely, California is poised to lose much of its agriculture, which uses about 80 percent of the state's water and is a major source of pollution.

In fact, the PPIC hinted at such an outcome by pointing out that California's economy "no longer depends as directly on water to generate wealth; agriculture, which still consumes the lion's share of water, represents a small fraction of overall employment and economic output."

We would prefer a long-term vision of increased water storage in new or enlarged reservoirs to meet the needs of all users and the environment.

If that is not to be, the PPIC's plan is a logical alternative that relies on conservation and better water management. Unfortunately, it also is likely to mean a steady and significant decline of food production in the nation's leading agricultural state.


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