From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee
In a sign of growing drought in California, state officials recently took the unusual step of loosening environmental water quality rules in hopes of protecting salmon in the Sacramento River.
The move illustrates how drought forces difficult trade-offs in modern-day California, where water supplies are stretched to the limit even in normal years.
Coalition response...The solution to providing sufficient water for fish migration while continuing to meet the water supply needs of Northern California and the rest of the state is the development of new storage in Northern California. Construction of Sites Reservoir and expanding Shasta Dam would help improve water management flexibility for all of California. These projects can accomplish this by increasing the reliability of Sacramento Valley water supplies and other parts of the state by reducing Sacramento River diversions at a time when salmon need it most. Combined, Sites and Shasta could add over 2 million acre-feet to California's water supply and ecosystem portfolio, which is a win-win for people and the environment.
Bay Delta Conservation Plan
From: Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan represents a seven-year effort by water industry professionals working in the Delta for more than 40 years to develop a plan that increases water supply reliability and restores ecosystem resources in the Delta. The water supply for almost 4,000 farms and 25 million Californians has become increasingly unreliable in the wake of environmental pressures unforeseen at the time our existing water supply system was conceived. Experts say that climate change and earthquakes pose additional risks to our water supply.
From: Alastair Bland, Sacramento News & Review
The brown water of the Sacramento River lumbers quietly downstream along the levee bank, swirling eddies and occasional surges of turbulence revealing the power of this greatest of California's waterways. It is nearly 100 degrees in the town of Hood, about 20 minutes south of Sacramento, and the heavy sun crushes the midday hours into idleness. The streets are quiet, except for the occasional passing of a car on Highway 160, the rushing of the trees and the corners of a sign on a gate flapping in the hot wind. It reads:
"STOP THE TUNNELS."
Dry Winters, Water Rationing Force Output Cuts, Test Fragile Regional Economy
From: Jim Carlton, Wall Street Journal
Two years of dry weather and regulatory water cuts are taking a mounting toll on California's giant farm belt, forcing farmers to idle more fields and workers even as much of the rest of the Golden State continues to recover from a debilitating recession.
As they did last year after a dry winter forced state and federal water managers to cut their allotments, farmers here in the Central Valley again this year are letting fields go fallow after being advised they would receive as little as 20% of their contracted supplies of water from the mountains of Northern California.
Aiding SoCal's water needs requires studying north's resources
From: Tony St. Amant, Chico News & Review
Governor Jerry Brown recently signed an executive order that directs immediate action to deal with the dry conditions in the state and water-delivery limitations to the San Joaquin Valley. Responsive to immediate need? Absolutely. Responsive to long-term needs? Not even close!
What the governor is overlooking is the need to develop a projection of how much water realistically will be available if we are in fact entering the long-term dry spell many have predicted. Without thoughtful planning and a lot more study, he runs the risk of creating a second water-starved valley-this one north of Sacramento.