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Water Crisis: It Really Is Fish Versus People

Could not scientifically prove that a single delta smelt or any other species had been saved or even benefitted, NOT ONE.

Feb 13, 2014

As we watch Valley farmers get involved in negotiations for water during the drought, we would like to take this opportunity to review how previous negotiations have robbed them of more and more water. From the 1992 CVPIA, to the 1993 ESA listing of the Chinook Salmon, to the 1994 ESA listing of the Delta Smelt, to the 1995 CalFed Bay/Delta program, to San Joaquin River Restoration, these regulations have removed over 5-million acre feet from our water supplies. We can no longer tolerate a drought like we used to do. Despite all this, there haven't been any tremendous improvements to fish populations.

Lance Johnson is a friend of Families Protecting the Valley. His review of past water rules and regulations is one you should post on your wall for future reference.

To Families Protecting the Valley,

"It’s easy for people to assume that California’s drought and the associated water supply crisis we’re facing is simply the result of the ongoing lack of rain and snow. After all, we’re told that 2013 was the driest year on record. And some may recall that 2012, despite its wet fall, ended up as another dry year. So the conclusion most people draw is that this year’s water supply crisis is simply the natural result of 2014 being the third dry year in a row. But the fact is that California’s 2014 water crisis is actually the result of 20 years of accumulated environmental regulation that makes fish more important than people, jobs, our local and state economies and the food California farmers grow that feeds you, the nation and the world.

The most recent long-term drought, 1987-92, provides an irrefutable comparison. Data from the federal Central Valley Project shows that during the 1987-92 drought west valley agricultural contractors received sequential allocations of 100%, 100%, 50%, 25% and 25%. And urban allocations, which have a higher priority, followed a similar pattern of 100% from 1987 – 89 to lows of 75% then 50% of historic use from 1990 through 1992.

Though 1993 was fairly wet, the year’s 1993 and 94 still saw allocation deficiencies for two reasons; first was US Bureau of Reclamation’s efforts to rebuild reservoir storage following the prior 6 drought years and second was USBR’s dealing with the first of what would become a 20 year long tsunami of new environmental regulations.

That wave of new regulations commenced with the October 1992 passage of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA) that in and of itself stripped the CVP of about 1,400,000 acre-feet per year (enough water to serve about 2,000,000 valley households or 500,000 acres of farmland) of previously deliverable water. Next, in 1993, was the Endangered Species Act listing of the winter run Chinook salmon stripping away another 250,000 to 800,000 AF/yr. depending on year type. Then in 1994 came the ESA listing of the delta smelt. And 1995 saw drastically increased delta outflow requirements that came as part of the CalFed Bay/Delta program that collectively stripped the CVP and State Water Project of another 1,100,000 AF/yr, for starters.

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, from our previously deliverable water supplies. But the bottom line is that all these regulatory actions have, since 1992, taken a CVP that was able to withstand a 6 year drought and deliver no less than a 25% ag supply and no less than 50% to urban contractors to the current crisis situation in which those same CVP ag contractors and some urban contractors now face a -0- CVP allocation after just two drought years.

It would be one thing if environmentalists and the regulatory agencies that formulated and implemented all the new regulations, could point to booming improvements, even any improvement, in fish populations. But the fact is they can’t and never have been able too. As example, even after dumping an additional 800,000+ AF (270,000,000,000 gallons) of extra water out the Golden Gate during 2013 to purportedly help delta smelt and other species, months of monitoring by fishery agencies could not scientifically prove that a single delta smelt or any other species had been saved or even benefitted, NOT ONE.

Were it not for that 800,000 AF having been dumped to the ocean valley farmers would today at least have a chance of getting some water in 2014. And the fact is that if the last 20 years of demonstrably useless environmental regulatory actions were not in place CVP ag contractors, while admittedly still experiencing cutbacks due to the natural drought, would today be receiving a supply of around 25% as they did during the last years of the 1987-92 drought.

So in truth it really is about “fish versus people”. That along with jobs, our state and local economies and the food valley farmers normally grow that feeds you, the nation and the world. And you can “thank” environmental activists, their regulatory agency cohorts and do nothing state and federal democrat legislators for the water supply crisis that we are experiencing today.

Lance Johnson
Shaver Lake

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