Saturday, May 30, 2009

The issue is governance.

California has Congress Critters of both parties (Cardoza, Costa, Nunes, Radanovich) who have been pushing the water issue. We have a governor who wants to build major new water systems while the state has no money. We have the Secretary of the Department of Resources, Mike Chrisman, who is asking the EPA to set aside environmental regulations so that it is possible to pump more water out of the delta to agricultural interest on the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The Delta has been the center of water problems for a long time. That is only natural since it supplies a major portion of the water that this state uses for both residential and agricultural purposes. Governor Schwarzenegger even commissioned a so called blue ribbon task force on the delta. On completion of their work, this group formed a non-profit called the Delta Vision Foundation to see that their recommendations were implemented.

On Monday June 1, they will hold a meeting in Sacramento to give a report card on the legislature and the governor. The word in the local press is that is will be "mixed." That link is to an artile by Mike Taugher on the Contra Costa Times. Taugher, along with Matt Weiser of the Sacramento Bee have emerged as the two most penetrating journalists writing on this subject now.

My own view is that the Foundation will take them all to task for ignoring the following in the task force recommendations.
Establish a new governance structure with the authority, responsibility, accountability, science support and secure funding to achieve these goals.
So far, I have not seen the leaders of this state, neither the governor nor the legislators, neither the Democrats nor the Republicans, have the courage to take those actions that are required. It seems that I am not alone in this assessment. William K. Reilly was one of the members of the Delta Vision Task Force and from 1989 to 1993 was the Administrator of the EPA, appointed by George H. W. Bush (Bush 42). In a May 27th OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle, Reilly laid into the Ahnuld.
Schwarzenegger has called for a 20 percent reduction in statewide water use, a notably bold recognition that excessive water use and population increase are doubly threatening to our water future. But he and legislative leaders have not acknowledged that the critical missing ingredient in water management in the delta is governance.
I fully agree with Reilly. Only it has to be a Green Governance, one that considers not just the delta, but then entire bio-region, one that considers not just agriculture but all of the uses of the water, one that looks not just to tomorrow, but reasons to manage our resources until the 7th Generation.


Alex Walker said...

While driving up I-5 from Los Angeles to San Jose this weekend, I noticed a bunch of yellow signs posted on various fields with the slogan "Congress Created Dust Bowl."

This appears to be some kind of political campaign. What's up with that?

Wes said...

Alex, that is part of a well planned, very political campaign by the farmers of the West Side of the San Joaquin Valley. They are essentially represented by the Westlands Water District. The Executive Director of that organization is Thomas Birmingham, the lawyer who represented the LA Dept. Water and Power in the Mono Lake law suit. The Westlands Water District has the most junior of water rights in the valley. Everyone gets their water before Westlands. So, they are making it a political issue, one that pushes the blame off on everyone else. They lie about endangered species effects. They ignore the fact that even with such junior water rights they chose to switch from planting row crops that go year to year in favor of large orchards that require the water every year. Just like GM, making the tax payers responsible for their bad business plan.