Coalition response...A disconcerting element of this report is the attempt to place social
values on the water used to produce meat and dairy products. Consumer choices
and federal nutrition guidelines include these items and most people find them
to be a valuable part of a balanced diet. It takes feed like alfalfa, hay and
corn to produce meat, ice cream and cheese. Suggesting that people will
"help make the world a better place" by avoiding meat or dairy
products is social engineering at its worst.
Consumers also benefit
economically from domestic food production by paying less at the grocery store
than their counterparts in 28 other high-income countries. Americans pay just
6.2% of their disposable income on food and non-alcoholic beverages each year.
Those in other high-income countries pay 10.2%, which at the same rate would
cost Americans $3,820 more each year (in 2010 dollars) to feed their families
Also absent in the study are
those additional values derived from water used on California farms. Jobs are
provided for millions of employees both on the farm and through marketing
channels, such as trucking, processing, service and export terminal jobs, with
a total economic impact of $112 billion, according to the UC Davis Ag Issues
Center. Don't forget that taxes are also generated from these farms that help
support local schools and other government activities.
California is the seventh largest
economy in the world and any effort designed to shift water use based on
economic value is misleading. After all, most Californians would agree that the
availability of fresh California-grown fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy
products far outweigh the taste and nutrition of a "high-value"
product such as a shoe or a computer. Readers of this report should realize the
value they currently have from the food and fiber grown on our farms and not be
fooled into comparing food with other consumer products.
Coalition response...Years of study by scientists, biologists, engineers and others have gone
into the efforts to establish a reliable water supply and an improved Delta
ecosystem. Those efforts have come together under the Bay Delta Conservation
Plan. Volumes of material is available for review at the BDCP's website - http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/Home.aspx.
Various plans to achieve the goals of the BDCP have been submitted and each has
been fully vetted. Some elements of these plans have been incorporated into the
BDCP current proposal because the researchers have determined that value
exists. Other plans have not fared as well.
The current proposal is the
closest California has come to safeguarding its water future through a reliable
water supply and recognizing the importance of restoring a fragile Delta ecosystem.
(The following is in response to
the above articles.)
Coalition response...Governments, including schools, have benefited from Shasta Dam in the
form of taxes it has generated to the local economy. Jobs have been created and
even the environment has benefited not only at the local level but throughout
the State. The study to raise the dam points out that these benefits will
continue and even be enhanced.
Rejecting these future benefits
is to reject the years of science and research that has gone into developing
the proposal. More water in storage means improved conditions for Chinook
salmon in dry or critical years as the cold water supply increases. More gravel
augmentation for salmon in the upper Sacramento River is also included in the
proposal. The survival rate for fish will be increased as a result of water
Coalition response...The author seizes the opportunity of the requirement that all
suggestions from the public must be vetted to add some humor to the future of
the Colorado River. Absent in his column are the benefits that this water
supply provides to millions of people across seven states and the food produced
by farmers who use the water for irrigation purposes. Much of the winter
vegetables enjoyed by Californians and others come from the Imperial and
Coachella valleys. These farmers carefully use the water that comes from the
Colorado River to provide a supply of food that is affordable, healthy and
This food supply contributes to
the overall economic benefit of American households. The average U.S. household
spends approximately 6.2 percent of their total spending, or $5,945 per year
($2010 dollars), on food and non-alcoholic beverages. The weighted average
spending on food and non-alcoholic beverages for other high-income countries
around the world is estimated to be approximately 10.2 percent of total
spending, or $9,765 annually. Based on these values, the relative difference
between food and beverage spending in the U.S. and other high-income countries
is $3,820 per household per year (http://www.farmwater.org/foodcoststudy.pdf).
On a percentage basis, other high-income countries spend about 64 percent more
on food and beverages compared to the U.S.
Coalition response...Rejecting the benefits resulting from the proposed raising of Shasta Dam
is to reject the years of science and research that has gone into developing
the proposal. More water in storage means enhanced protections for Chinook
salmon in dry or critical years as the cold water supply increases. Improved
gravel augmentation for salmon in the upper Sacramento River is also included
in the proposal. The water management flexibility for water operations in the
proposal will result in an increased fish survivability rate.
Some critics of the proposal
insist that local projects should replace the raising of Shasta Dam. These
local projects usually are coupled with local benefits and would not provide
the environmental benefits offered to Chinook salmon.
It is interesting to remember
that this discussion would not be taking place today if the original
construction plans, which called for a higher dam, were fully undertaken. The
plans were adjusted at a time when our nation needed the building supplies for
an effort to safeguard our nation during a time of war.
Coalition response...Opposition to planned water system upgrades and ecosystem improvements
in the Delta puts the water supply for more than 25 million Californians at
risk. It also threatens huge swaths of farmland in the San Joaquin Valley that
is the source for much of California's fruit and vegetable crops during certain
times of the year.
Years of water uncertainty caused
by drought and environmental restrictions, as well as a doubling of
California's population from a time when much of our existing water system was
built, tells us that the time is right to invest in our future. As President
John F. Kennedy said at the groundbreaking for San Luis Reservoir near Los
Banos in 1962, "Nothing could be more disastrous for this country than for
the citizens of one part of the state to feel that everything they have is
theirs and that it should not be shared with the other citizens of the state.
That is the way to stand still."
Water rights for people in the
Delta, or anywhere else for that matter, cannot be impacted by new projects.
That's the law. Standing in the way of others who want to invest in tomorrow's
more efficient water supply system is contrary to what Kennedy told us 50 years
ago. And that surely is the way to stand still today.
Coalition response...Water transfers can provide benefits to both the buyer and the seller
including funds for infrastructure improvements and improved water supply
reliability as long as the transfers are carefully constructed with protections
for both parties. Today's transfer market is much different than it was when
Owens Valley water was acquired by the Los Angeles Department of Water and
Power. The Sacramento Valley is rich in agricultural, ecological and water
supply resources. Area-of-origin water rights and decision-making led by local
officials help protect the region and ensure that today's water transfer
agreements more fairly serve all of the parties involved.