Thursday, October 25, 2007

Water Wars Continue... Politicians Hide.

We are finally beginning to see the shape of what the experts deem to be the future of water in California. The 2nd draft of A Vision for California’s Delta has been released and will be under discussion today and tomorrow in Sacramento.

Given what it is, a report put together with major input form the water agencies and not enough input form the public, it appears to me to be saying that we need to do all of the above: new dams, new underground storage, new canals, etc. It is cloaked in enough fine words that even major environmental groups are not strongly criticizing in in public... and I don't know about what they say in private.
“There’s a lot of good things in here,” said Barry Nelson, a water policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “A lot of these are issues that the agencies have been ducking for a long time.”
The Blue Ribbon Task Force will make it's recommendations by the end of November, so there is little time do much to change it, though there will be 3 rounds of public comment afterwards.

Here is a list of quick observations:
  • The current firestorms in Southern California show us exactly how dependent we are on a fragile system and how interconnected all of this is. The time to view anything as other than interconnected is long past.
  • Much of the rhetoric will frame this as a conflict between people and endangered species. This is a dangerous framing and far from the truth.
  • Water agencies will never take a stand that implies any limitation to growth or demand.
  • Neither major political party is willing to take the step of addressing the number one use of water in the State. Think "Got Milk." California agriculture is heavily invested in crops that are water intensive: cotton, alfalfa, rice. The predictions of climate change scientists are that rainfall and temperature changes will necessitate changes in agricultural practices, crop selection, etc. The time to start this is now.

The report does call for changes in the agricultural use in the Delta.
Specialized forms of agriculture that are particularly well suited to the Delta must be encouraged, such as subsidence-reversing crops, carbon-sequestering crops, and wildlife-friendly farming practices.
It fails, however, to recognize the need for making other basic changes, assuming that their job is only to deliver the water that agriculture needs. But then, Central Valley Water Districts help write the report.

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