Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Drought, Water and Politics Part I, Introduction

Not long ago, I promised that I would work on a review of water issues for the Green Party of CA.  It is a complicated set of issues with a long and often ugly history.  I won't go very far into the history of the issues here unless it applies directly to what we are facing now.
For example, when I started looking seriously at CA water issues I was working to unseat Richard Pombo, at that time Chairman of the House Committee on Resources (now Natural Resources).  Often, we saw Pombo, a Republican, together with Sen. Diane Feinstein, a Democrat.  Well, Pombo is gone but not Feinstein and so the history of what she has done in the past is open to criticism and that will be given.  The summary of her achievements is simple.  Nothing has ever worked but she gave great speeches and keeps getting re-elected. I have written about the Delta for years and that means writing about Sen. Feinstein, as I did back in 2006 when we were stuck with an unworkable CalFed compromise that she sponsored and which the current plans was supposed to fix. 

I think that it makes sense to divide this into specific sections focused on the upcoming issues that require political action.  First and foremost is the question of the State of California's plan to build twa o massive tunnels under a portion of the Delta, carrying the water from the Sacramento  and American Rivers under the Delta to discharge at Clifton Court Forebay northwest of Tracy, where it can be pumped into canals carrying it South to West San Joaquin Valley ag interests and then over the mountains to the Metropolitan Water District.  The scope and cost (upwards of $40 Billion) make essential that we get it right and that everyone understand what is happening, not just what the bureaucrats want you to know.   Clifton Forebay is only about 1 M above mean sea level and no one is talking about the cost to deal with that.  That will come as Part II, and shortly as we only have a couple of weeks to make any impact on the process.

In Part III, I will deal with issues related to the drought we are experiencing now and the deluge we might be getting from a very strong El Niño.  Very few media outlets get this right.  Most oversimplify the issues involved. There are only a few journalists that I trust with this story.  I will list those below.


Journalists:  These are the major CA journalists who have the knowledge and the capability to deal with water issues in CA.  Most of them have years of experience on the "environmental beat" and that show when they don't feed you pablum.
  • Paul Rogers:   Writes for the San Jose Mercury News.  I follow him on twitter(@PaulRogersSJMN) to make sure I don't miss anything.  Twenty years on the beat and tells the story straight.  Also often on KQED.
  • Matt Weiser:  Writes for the Sacramento Bee:  
  • Alex Breitler:  Writes for the Stockton Record and covers San Joaquin Valley issues.
  • Chris Austin:  Chris is a sel described "water news junkie" and maintains the Maven's Notebook.  She catches everything that the others don't cover and a lot more. If you only have time to follow one source, this should be it.
  • Emily Green.  Her blog is Chance of Rain and it is well worth the read including this summer's post, Fixing a Broken Delta.
  • John Fleck.  His inkstain blog is often cited by those who really know western water.   Lives in New Mexico but understands almost everything about Western US Water.
  • Lloyd G. Carter. Lloyd was a journalist until he became a lawyer.  He calls his blog The Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood. I will mention Lloyd more, as he was key to reporting the selenium pollution of the Kesterson Reservoir by ag interests from the Westlands Water District.
  •  Dr. Peter Gleick  Founder and Director of the Pacific Institujte.  Worldwide reputation on water issues.  Follow him on twitter to see what he is up to now.  @PeterGleick
  • Michael E. Campana  Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University.  Blogs as the AquaDoc  I follow on twitter @WaterWired as much of what he produces is irrelevant unless you have a degree and are interested in a job.  
  • Donald Zeitland.  He has a blog called Aquanomics.. the political economics of water.   But I list him here.  PhD in economics from UC Berkeley and currently Assistant Prof. of Economics at Leiden University in the Netherlands. If you think that water and economics belong in the same sentence, you need to read Zeitland.
Activist Organizations: Both of these have had some supportand or endorsement from GPCA.
Then, there is Dan Bacher: Journalist, blogger, activist and always outspoken.  Dan is managing editor of Fish-Sniffer, a magazine for sport fishing.  Blogs all over the place including at Daily Kos though he is no Democrat (not at Green either).

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