Tag Archive for 'california water policy'

Water, water everywhere, but not enough is saved

“Government water managers cringe at the word “drought.” But there are two words that they dread even more: “drought over.”

“A drought forces the government to reduce water deliveries. That agitates farmers and urban gardeners. But at the same time, politicians and bureaucrats gain an opportunity to make a strong case for building more waterworks, especially dams.

“Parching droughts and killer floods: They’re proven motivators that whip up public support for big water projects.

“It’s understandable, therefore, that a state government would be very hesitant to take down the drought sign.

“That came to mind last week as Gov. Jerry Brown finally formally acknowledged what was obvious to everyone: California’s drought had ended.

“For weeks, it had been pouring enough to float an ark.

“OK, maybe I am a bit cynical. Perhaps I’ve watched “Chinatown” too many times. In this classic 1974 film, L.A. officials fake a drought in the San Fernando Valley in order to generate public support for a bond issue that will finance construction of a dam and an aqueduct and make a developer even richer.

“The flick is fiction but close enough to sordid history — excluding the murder and mayhem — that it should be required viewing for every Californian.

“I’m not saying anyone in Sacramento faked the recent so-called drought. But the D-word was grossly abused.

Read more: LA Times

Bill seeks limited carcinogens in Calif. tap water


Photo retrieved from: ehp.niehs.nih.gov

“Saying clean drinking water should be a basic right, a California lawmaker on Tuesday proposed a strict limit on the amount of a known carcinogen in tap water.

“Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, introduced legislation that would require the state Department of Public Health to place limits on hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6, by Jan. 1, 2013.

“If the agency does not act in time, California would adopt a limit of 0.02 parts per billion, compared with the federal standard of 100 parts per billion.

“The legislation was backed by lawyer and environmental advocate Erin Brockovich, who was scheduled to attend a news conference on the proposal but was forced to cancel because of illness.”

Read more: Bloomberg

Calif. seeks balance in fixing its water system

Photo retrieved from: deltaboating.com

“As they tackled the question of whether California can find balance between reliable water supplies and a healthy environment, a panel of water experts acknowledged to those attending the California Irrigation Institute conference last week in Sacramento that answers to contentious water problems are not a simple yes or no.

“Instead, they suggested the answers are embedded in a complex web of factors, with any one answer having far-reaching implications for the state’s economy, the environment and how food is grown.

“”What’s emerging in our discussions is that all water used in California and all the ways we use it are interconnected,” said Phil Isenberg, chairman of the Delta Stewardship Council, during opening remarks to the conference. “All decisions touch one another and there’s no way to avoid a conclusion that decisions made in one area trickle out to the rest of the state.”"

Read more: The Daily Democrat

Calif. water overseer wants to reinforce farm water conservation

Photo retrieved from: circleofblue.org

“A newly appointed Delta water overseer wants to use the state constitution to enforce farm water conservation in California, contending that even small improvements could result in big savings.

“Craig Wilson is California’s first Delta watermaster, a position created by sweeping water reforms lawmakers passed at the end of 2009.

“In his first report to regulators, Wilson will argue Wednesday that farmers who use water inefficiently are violating the constitution’s requirement that its use be “reasonable.”

“His recommendations, if adopted, would mark the first time the doctrine has been applied so broadly.

“”It’s been taboo,” said Peter Gleick, a noted water expert and president of the Pacific Institute, an environmental research organization based in Oakland, Calif. “No one has wanted to step up and say, ‘This is not a reasonable or beneficial use of water.’ ”

“Gleick added: “We don’t have enough water anymore to be able to avoid that conversation.”"

Read more: The Miami Herald

Stalling on the water bond is good for private interests, bad for average Californians

The Columbia irrigation canal draws river water east of Mendota in Fresno County. (Photo by Michael Macor / The San Francisco Chronicle)

“Legislation to delay the $11 billion water bond is expected to be taken up in the State Legislature on Monday. Sadly, this stalling tactic is an attempt to pull a fast one on voters.

“Supporters of the water bond, which would cost California taxpayers $22 billion over 30 years, hope that in two years voters will forget how bad it is. That will also give bond supporters time to gather the millions of dollars needed to push their message out statewide. We shouldn’t be fooled: a vote to postpone this bad bill is a vote to keep it on life support.

“While pulling the plug on the water bond now and starting anew is the best thing for California, the second best option is to let Prop 18 go to the ballot in November. If our Bay Area legislators want to do right by the public, they will vote against A.B. 1265, the bill to postpone the water bond to 2012.

“The battle over the bond has been framed in many circles as a battle between farmers and fishermen, or between Northern and Southern California. But a report released by Food & Water Watch yesterday suggests that the real battle is between private and public interests, with private interests across the state set to gain measurably if the bond is passed. Peter Gleick’s post on Tuesday highlighted what Proposition 18 actually says and does. Now with this report, we know who stands to benefit most from the bloated bond and it’s not the general water-drinking public. That will continue to be the case two years from now.

“We find that bond beneficiaries would include the Obayashi Corporation, a large Japanese contractor working on the San Vicente Dam in San Diego; Warren Buffet, whose Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary Pacificorp would have costs associated with the removal of its dams on the Klamath River offset by bond funds; and Cadiz, Inc., which could access bond money for a groundwater bank in the Mojave Desert where it would store Colorado River water and resell it at a profit to Southern California communities.”

read more: SF Chronicle

“And during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years.”

Pacific Institute“In 1952 John Steinbeck wrote East of Eden, a monumental book about the lives of a community, families, and individuals living in the Salinas Valley of California between the late 1800s through the Great War. The scope of the book is vast, taking on the themes of love and hate, good and evil, the sweep of human emotions, frailties, and strengths, all in the context of a California that no longer exists. And while the book isn’t about water, themes of water flow through it as a metaphor for the cycles of life, drought and flood, and in images of California alternatively parched and quenched. I’ve just had the enormous pleasure of reading it [thank you, Daniel, for the recommendation], and near the very beginning, amidst the grand truths woven through the book is the following prose, as true today as a century ago:

“And it never failed that during the dry years the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years. It was always that way.”

“It was always that way” about water, and it still is. And if we are to have any hope of changing this cycle of crisis and forgetfulness, we have to start thinking differently.

“California has just suffered through three years of drought. Certainly not the first such drought and certainly not the last. And during the drought, we had the opportunity to think differently, to do things differently. But we failed to do so.

“Indeed, during the recent drought, California water policy moved badly backward, in large part because of the influential actions of a small set of powerful but narrowly self-interested parties. These groups acted to protect and even expand their own uses of water at the expense of all other uses, human and environmental. This is, indeed, how it has always been in California, so perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise. But our society is so interconnected now, our populations so large and interwined, and our water resources so constrained, that such narrow self-interests can no longer be tolerated. They don’t just result in the unfair enrichment of a few; they result in the impoverishment of everyone else. In particular, during the recent dry years, four serious missteps were taken or proposed:”

Read more: SF Chronicle

As We See It: Save the salmon: Good news on fishing season, but battle over water diversion remains.

“There was a time when salmon was king.

“Now, finally, for the first time in three years, sport fishermen will again be able to fish for salmon in Monterey Bay.

“But the glory days of salmon fishing in local waters — really, most of the fishing industry — are decades past. The issue of who is to blame for the decline in chinook salmon, and its resulting effect on the fishing industry, is complicated.

“Overfishing and climate change have been blamed. But probably the main culprit is changes in the freshwaters flowing to the ocean. Salmon spawn in rivers and streams, before maturing in the ocean — and fishing advocates blame corporate farms in the San Joaquin Valley, which receive federally subsidized water diverted from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, for ruining the salmon spawn.”

read more: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Twisted Logic of Privatization: You People Saved Water Last Year — So Rates Are Going Up!

“Several cash strapped US cities have sold off their municipal water systems or at least contracted operations to for-profit companies. (One of the truly odd things about the water market in America is that the biggest players in privatization are European corporations.) Recapping the perverse incentive: conserve water to be “green;” get charged more for what you still use to keep the overseas profit stream flowing.”

read more: AlterNet

Water Wars: The ‘Endangered’ Western States

“The Endangered Species Act is corrupt and a tool used for collectivist control. You will recall that a whopping 48% of deliverable water is is used for “environmental” purposes by the federal government (most of it is runs off into the Pacific Ocean) and only 41% goes to agriculture. Despite 3 years of increased water restrictions, the Delta Smelt populations continue to fall: the federal Endangered Species Act “solutions” are not working. This “water shortage” game was played in the Klammath Basin, on the border of California and Oregon in 2001.”

read more: Prison Planet