Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Water Wars

With the first hearings on the California Water Crisis scheduled on Thursday in Sacramento, there is precious little time to take any action. At least newspapers and television stations are beginning to give this issue some coverage. You should find it interesting to read the commentary from two papers that I have not referenced before. One is the Fresno Bee and the other is the Ventura County Star. Their viewpoints differ as just as their geography does. The Fresno Bee puts the emphasis on dams, as the ones proposed by Schwarzenegger would directly support the agricultural interests of the San Joaquin Valley.
Q: Does the state need more dams?

A: Depends on whom you ask. Farmers, developers and some municipal leaders say that dams are the best way to increase the state's water supply. Water that now flows to the ocean could be captured to serve the state's growing population. Supporters also tout other benefits, such as protecting communities from flooding and stabilizing river flows to aid fish.

Environmentalists say dams are too expensive and take too long to build -- more than a decade in most cases. Because most of the good sites have been taken, new reservoirs might only fill up in really wet years, they say. They also note that studies on proposed dams haven't been completed. Also, dams would impede the natural flow of rivers, harming surrounding habitat that relies on rivers changing course every so often, opponents say.
On the other hand, the Ventura County Star, while writing about dams, places the focus on local urban needs and local action.
Kendall [general manager of the Calleguas Municipal Water District in Thousand Oaks] said Ventura County officials are not anticipating an increase in state water supplies any time soon. "We're preparing to work with what we have," he said.

His Calleguas district, which supplies imported water to Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Camarillo, Oxnard and Port Hueneme, has taken such steps as developing large underground storage capacity and facilitating projects to desalinate brackish groundwater.

Thanks largely to underground storage in Los Posas Basin, the district has about 100,000 acre-feet of water stored, or about a year's supply for the 600,000 people it serves
It is interesting that the Fresno Bee ignores the position of the So Cal Metropolitan Water District, the largest urban water supplier. The Ventura County Star defines that for their readers.
Advocates of the delta-first approach have an important, and somewhat surprising, urban ally: the Metropolitan Water District, which supplies water to 18 million Southern Californians.

The district has made delta restoration its No. 1 priority, and the head of the agency that distributes imported water in Ventura County says addressing environmental problems in the delta is more urgent than building new dams.
This is a different line than that which I quoted just a few weeks ago. I can not conceive any solution for the Water Crisis that does not begin with fixing the delta. The Delta is the Hub of California's Future. Were it to fail, then all the dams in the Sierra's would amount to not much. Schwarzenegger is wrong and we owe it to the future to get this across.

1 comment:

brthomas said...

Most of the water exported south from the California Delta is used in the selenium-polluting agriculture of the western San Joaquin Valley. It was foolish to begin irrigating the toxic soils in this area. It would be even more foolish to build more dams and a Peripheral Canal just to send more water south to perpetuate this environmental disaster.

Oppose the Dams and Peripheral Canal - Delta Conveyance plan for the California Delta.