Tag Archive for 'water politics'

In dry California, water fetching record prices

Photo retrieved from: www.apnews.com

“Throughout California’s desperately dry Central Valley, those with water to spare are cashing in.

As a third parched summer forces farmers to fallow fields and lay off workers, two water districts and a pair of landowners in the heart of the state’s farmland are making millions of dollars by auctioning off their private caches.

Nearly 40 others also are seeking to sell their surplus water this year, according to state and federal records.

Economists say it’s been decades since the water market has been this hot. In the last five years alone, the price has grown tenfold to as much as $2,200 an acre-foot – enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.

Unlike the previous drought in 2009, the state has been hands-off, letting the market set the price even though severe shortages prompted a statewide drought emergency declaration this year.”

Read more: AP News


Debunking some myths about Israel’s water politics

Photo retrieved from: www.aljazeera.com

“In his speech to Israel’s Parliament on February 12, Martin Schultz, president of the European Parliament, spoke of our shared responsibility to stand up for freedom and dignity at all times. He acknowledged Israel’s success at realising a dream shared by many people: To live “in freedom and dignity” in “a homeland of their own”, noting that Palestinians also have the right to “self-determination and justice”.

He then addressed Palestinian suffering and in doing so, highlighted the glaring discrepancy in access to water between the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza on the one hand, and Israelis – inside the “Green Line” and on settlements in the West Bank – on the other.

AIPAC did not remain silent. In a New York Times article AIPAC’s Seth Siegel suggests that the Arabs should stop viewing Israel as “the problem”. Without any mention of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, he calls upon Arabs to reach out to Israel and benefit from its superior know-how.

Israel could save them from water scarcity and reconciliation could ensue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke likewise in his address to AIPAC on March 4: The Arabs need to recognise Israel as a Jewish state; then there would be peace and the deserts would bloom.”

Read more: Aljazeera


Truce called in longtime feud between L.A. County water districts

Photo retrieved from: www.latimes.com

“For nearly three years, two Los Angeles County water districts had been locked in an ugly feud.

The Central Basin Water District, a water wholesaler, refused to sell to its rival, the Water Replenishment District, which manages an underground storage basin in southeast Los Angeles County that serves 4 million residents. For its part, the WRD was just as happy not to buy the water, lest the purchase benefit Central Basin.

The standoff cut groundwater storage even as the state faced a looming drought.

But as Central Basin faces an FBI corruption investigation, the bad blood between the two agencies has suddenly eased.

Central Basin this month agreed to sell 60,000 acre-feet of water to the Water Replenishment District. Water experts say the sale represents a major boost to the local underground basin. It comes as the drought is forcing local agencies to rely more on the basin for water.

“I think it’s a new day where we’re finally practicing good water management in our basin,” said Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department, who has sat on the sidelines as the water war raged. “We put zero drops of water in this basin. And that, to me, is the travesty. And it was because of this war.”

Typically, the Water Replenishment District replenishes the basin with about 100,000 acre-feet of “artificially captured water” a year, most of it from rain runoff. About 20% usually comes from imported water purchased from Central Basin. But there has been very little rainfall in the last three years, which combined with the lack of imported water has concerned Wattier and others.”

Read more: The Los Angeles Times



EPA fails to defend Clean Water Act

Photo retrieved from: www.cleanwaternetwork.org

“The organizations, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the Florida Clean Water Network, and the Androscoggin River Alliance, say EPA is ignoring blatant violations of this important protection and thereby encourages states to violate it, pointing to two recent cases: In Florida, EPA has dithered for nearly a year without action. In Maine, the administrator resigned due to a parallel state law which has since been weakened while EPA stayed silent.

The federal Clean Water Act bars appointment of any state decision-maker on pollution discharge permits who “has during the previous two years received a significant portion of his income directly or indirectly from permit holders or applicants for a permit.” Nonetheless, at least two states have recently done just that. Both conflicted environmental nominees were confirmed and then challenged by environmental groups; one was ousted and one remains but in both cases EPA remained on the sideline.

Nearly a year ago, on February 23, 2011, PEER and Florida Clean Water Network filed a legal complaint with EPA that Herschel Vinyard, Florida’s environmental secretary, and another top appointee should be legally barred from issuing water pollution permits due to Vinyard’s prior employment on behalf of shipyards.”

Read more: examiner.com

Water Wars Flood L.A. Central Basin

Photo retrieved from: www.latimes.com

The Current Court Ruling

On Jan. 18, 2012 the State Appellate Court ruled that the trial court: 1) had authority to allocate future storage in the Central Basin; 2) had jurisdiction over water transfers between the Central and nearby West Coast Basins; and 3) was not prohibited from appointing a “watermaster” over unused space in the Central Basin. The court additionally ruled that the Central Basin Water District might also be able to serve as “watermaster.”

The defendants — the cities of Cerritos, Downey and Signal Hill — contended: 1) their costs would be increased if others were given the right to lease unused capacity in the Basin; 2) over-drafting of the Basin could result if new “wet water” was not put in first; and 3) there was a threat the appointed watermaster could try to merge the Central and West Coast Basins. The Central Basin did not want a proverbial “shotgun marriage” to result over the issue of renting a room to the unwanted bastard child of unused basin capacity.

Presumably, the above issues can be heard and adjudicated now that the jurisdictional issues have been clarified.

Enormous Implications

The timing of this case has enormous implications for what is happening statewide.  The Delta Stewardship Council appointed by the State Legislature is about to put into place widely encompassing laws that could usurp powers from local water districts.  Local water agencies would no longer be able to do anything that adversely impacted the Sacramento Delta.  The Delta is where Southern California gets most of its imported water supplies.  Conceivably, local water departments might not be able to issue any new water permits or “will serve” letters to real estate developers if that meant using more imported Delta water.”

Read more: Cal Watchdog


Why Alabama Will Keep Fighting

Chattahoochee river. Retrieved from: www.southernenvironment.org

“Communities in Alabama and Georgia that share the Chattahoochee and Coosa river basins have come to depend on a certain level of flows in dry times and wet times. When we are experiencing plentiful rainfall, those communities know how much river flow they can expect to receive, just as they know how much river flow they can expect in dry times. Economic and environmental expectations and investments in Alabama communities have been based on those historical flow amounts.

As a result of explosive growth, Atlanta-area communities have greater needs for water. One way to meet those needs is for those communities to invest in reservoirs and other infrastructure to store water in times of heavy rainfall. But Atlanta-area communities have not followed that path. Instead, they have relied almost exclusively on increased use of water from two large federal reservoirs — Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona — to meet increased water demand. Those reservoirs were built with federal tax dollars and, therefore, do not belong to Georgia. The problem is that Atlanta’s increased usage of those reservoirs removes water from the system that otherwise would have flowed to downstream communities.”

Read more: ajc

France accuses Israel of water ‘apartheid’ in West Bank

Photo retrieved from: www.haaretz.com

“The French parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee published an unprecedented report two weeks ago accusing Israel of implementing “apartheid” policies in its allocation of water resources in the West Bank.

The Israeli Embassy in Paris had no foreknowledge of the report and thus did not refute it or work to moderate it. Foreign Ministry officials called the incident “a serious diplomatic mishap.”

The report said that water has become “a weapon serving the new apartheid” and gave examples and statistics that ostensibly back this claim.

“Some 450,000 Israeli settlers on the West Bank use more water than the 2.3 million Palestinians that live there,” the report said. “In times of drought, in contravention of international law, the settlers get priority for water.”

The author of the report was Socialist Party MP Jean Glavany, who in the past served as agriculture minister under French President Lionel Jospin and as cabinet secretary for President Francois Mitterrand.”

Read more: IOA


Saving energy means saving money as well as saving the mekong

Mekong river. Retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“Numerous rivers are being dammed for power production as Laos pursues its vision to become the “Battery of Asia”, and about 90% of this power is for export to Thailand and Vietnam.

Obviously Laos is not the only country growing in this region, and the demand for electricity is understandably strong. But the “Land of a Million Elephants” is becoming the “Land of 50 Dams” and that affects us all. This is because the dams are on the tributaries and water catchments of the great Mekong River. Indeed, according to the Mekong River Commission, nearly one-third of Thailand is actually in the Mekong River basin. The current dams in the Mekong basin produce around 1,600 megawatts yet the potential is estimated at 30,000 MW. And with around 60 million people depending on the Mekong for food, water, and transport the number of people directly linked to the river is huge _ approximately the same as the population of Thailand itself. And these dams will have an uncertain impact on this important inland fishery.

Electricity is vital for economic growth and it is vitally important for countries to have very reliable sources of high-quality power to drive their economies forward. But not all electricity has to be used in an inefficient way, and by getting serious about energy efficiency, the demand growth can be reduced. And this will mean that fewer dams are needed on the precious Mekong and its basin. Countries such as Thailand and Vietnam getting more strict about energy efficiency will better preserve the region’s key river.”

Read more: Bangkok Post


Delta plan faces water problems in a more comprehensive way

Retrieved from: www.ucdavis.edu

“For the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, one common point of agreement is that the estuary – which is critical for water delivery to nearly two-thirds of California – is facing serious challenges that must be addressed.

In 2006, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan was created to establish a process that would bring stakeholders together to forge an agreement on a path forward. This was not simply meant to be a path that led from bureaucratic process to bureaucratic process. It was meant to find a final, long-term solution to our water issues.

The Delta faces numerous stressors, including municipal wastewater and industrial discharges, invasive species, predation, power plant diversions, urban and agricultural runoff, diversions and in-Delta pumping, and ocean conditions, among others. The BDCP is an effort to address these in a more comprehensive way. It is one of the largest habitat conservation and restoration projects of its kind ever undertaken in the United States. In conjunction with ecological restoration, BDCP will also provide a more reliable supply of water to nearly 25 million Californians, as well as millions of acres of highly productive farmland in the San Joaquin Valley.

Read more: Sacramento Bee


Ex-Water Board Director In Court To Answer Charges

Stephen Collins

Retrieved from: KSBW.com

“MONTEREY, Calif. — The former director of the Monterey County Water Resources Agency Board of Directors is in hot water.

“Stephen P. Collins was charged with 33 felony counts and six misdemeanors on suspicion of profiting off water contracts he handed out while serving as the Monterey County water board’s director.

“Collins appeared in court Wednesday for arraignment on the charges against him; but the hearing was continued until Nov. 30 without Collins entering a plea. Prosecutors asked Collins to be held on $10,000 bail, but Collins’ attorney Juliet Peck successfully argued that he is not a flight risk and Judge Timothy Roberts agreed, allowing Collins to go free.

“District Attorney Dean Flippo announced the charges against Collins, 57, at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“The conflict of interest charges against Collins stem from his handling of a desalination project, called the Regional Project.”
Read more: KSBW.com