Friday, February 18, 2011

Long range plans and political reality.

For all of the good words that the CA legislature wrapped around it's full slate of water bills last year, which I strongly criticized, it seems that little has changed. Yes, they brought down the curtain on the puppet theater known as CalFED and replaced it with the Delta Stewardship Council, but that council was given goals that appear to be mutually exclusively… to maintain the Delta ecosystem and to provide water for both agricultural and urban use. The fact is that there just is not enough water to do both.

Yes, I know that we have had rain this year. The San Jose area might make it up to 100% of normal, y-t-d if the rains continue into next week. So, what is the problem?

Well, part of it stems from the fact that the Bay Delta Stewardship Council, acting according to a legislatively imposed schedule, has released the initial version of their plan and it is missing the most important issues, like how much water needs to flow through the Delta in order to maintain a healthy ecosystem. It also has no answer for the question of how any work is to be funded. The lack of adequate funding is one of the things that ensured the failure of CalFed.

There is an intriguing analysis of the situation at On the Public Record. I agree with most of it, including the comments by waterwonk that this analysis was incomplete. At least waterwonk provided more partial information and that is helpful.

When I posted my original critique last year, on anonymous poster responded with the most common defenses against criticism of power: we are the experts so just nod your head in agreement and shut up.
Instead of declaring all of this a failure and attacking those who are trying to help the environment (e.g., Huffman -- who has forgotten more about the Delta than you'll ever know), why don't you get off your Green Party Duff, shake off the "I won't support anything that might work" dogma, and join the environmental groups who are actively fighting for numeric public trust criteria in this State Board proceeding, which would make a big difference.
In retrospect, I think that I was right. The political system in California will not allow a responsible plan to be made for the future of the Delta. We have a Republican Congressman from the San Joaquin Valley, Devin Nunes (CA-21) who continuously rails against "wacko" environmentalists while sneaking provisions into every piece of legislation that he can find which would prevent the funding of any action that is taken to implement the federal governments own scientific findings. Nunes will use his position on the House Committee for Natural Resources to control funding for water projects in CA.

In CA, Assembly Member Jared Huffman was a key figure in both creating the structure we have now and also in getting the Natural Resources Defense Council (NDRC), his one time employer, to support it. Hell, they helped draft it and should be just as accountable for creating yet another agency whose very mission, with its mutually exclusive goal, especially without adequate funding, is almost guaranteed to fail.

It is even clear that, as Restore the Delta intimates, the Delta Stewardship Council may not want to hear the real scientific findings.

I rather agree with the version of the plant that On the Public Record wants to see. It would be as refreshing as a long drink of cold mountain spring water.
You know what would be an awesome plan? If they said, “We don’t believe the political process can resolve Delta issues and correct them before the crisis, especially since system collapse is both imminent and potentially sudden. Here is what will happen when the Delta collapses, and how we can minimize the losses.”

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