Tuesday, October 15, 2013

News articles and links from October 15, 2013

Bay Delta Conservation Plan 

From: Tom Barnidge, Contra Costa Times 

Too bad more people didn't attend Saturday's "People's Equity Summit" at Holy Rosary Church in Antioch -- most of the 400 chairs sat empty -- if for no other reason than to hear Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho share her concerns over the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

"We are at risk of losing a major resource and suffering a devastating effect on our environment with another water grab from the Delta," she said of the water conveyance project backed by Gov. Jerry Brown. She fears reduced water flow into the estuary will inevitably result in damage to the ecosystem.

Coalition response...Federal ESA regulations cut deliveries of water this year to San Joaquin Valley farmers by 80 percent. No documented proof exists to show that taking this water to protect endangered fish has benefited the species. Almost 4,000 farmers and 25 million Californians are seeking to restore the reliable delivery of water they already have a right to receive. Supervisor Mary Piepho wrongly describes it as "another water grab."

In his speech near Los Banos on August 18, 1962, President John F. Kennedy praised Californians when he said, "...one part of your state has been willing to help another." He was, of course, speaking at the groundbreaking of San Luis Reservoir, part of the Central Valley Project (CVP). According to the Bureau of Reclamation's website, the CVP was originally conceived, "...to protect the Central Valley from crippling water shortages and devastating floods."  Ironically, the first element constructed as part of the CVP was the Contra Costa Canal, which serves Piepho's district.

Piepho compares the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its proposed tunnels to the peripheral canal of 1982. The water capacity of the tunnels is only 9,000 cubic feet per second, compared to 21,800 cfs proposed by the peripheral canal. The Plan also calls for dual conveyance of water through the Delta that will assist in maintaining in-Delta water quality. The peripheral canal would have been operated as an isolated facility with no in-Delta water benefits. Learn more about this comparison at www.farmwater.org/p-canalcomparison.pdf

Sadly, attitudes are different today. Politicians willingly twist the facts about projects like the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to suit their own political needs. They ignore history and the intent of Congress to provide water for farmers who grow food for the nation.


From: T.A. Frank, Becca MacLaren and Sarah Rothbard, Zócalo/Occidental College

Water has always been a contentious issue in local communities. But now we're on the cusp of a global water crisis. What can be done around California and the world-by individuals, by governments, and by markets-to encourage us to consume less, conserve more, and avert shortages and other disasters? That's what scientists, journalists, and water managers came together to discuss at a Zócalo/Occidental College conference at the Pacific Design Center.

The final panel of the day asked what Californians, and the institutions that govern us, can do to decrease our consumption and usage of water.

Reason science correspondent Ronald Bailey said that our water crisis "is a crisis of governance." The solution, he said, is twofold: to eliminate all water subsidies and all farmer subsidies, and to allocate water rights to individuals rather than governments. "There's no reason to subsidize any crops at all," he said. "We have plenty of food." And when it comes to any natural resource, when it's left in the hands of the government-or the people, in the case of California-it gets abused and polluted. "You need granular owners who own the water that goes through their land, and they're able to control it," he said.

Coalition response...California farmers grow more than 400 different crops and contrary to the information presented at the conference, most of the crops are not subsidized. These farmers provide a healthy and affordable supply of food items that stock local grocery store shelves and feeds people around the world.

People need to understand that the only subsidy applied to California's water supply is the interest fees on the construction of the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) over 60 years ago. When Congress authorized the construction costs for Shasta Dam and the other reservoirs and miles of canals to deliver water to where it could be used beneficially, the decision was made that the water users would repay all the costs except the interest charges. This has proven to be a wise decision with billions of dollars in crops produced from the lands that receive CVP water.

The California State Water Project (SWP) was built later and state officials decided to include the interest costs. The decision was also made to require those receiving water to pay the full contract costs each year regardless of how much water is delivered. In 1990, farmers received zero percent of their SWP water supply. That means they paid 100 percent of their contract costs but received no water.

California farmers are striving to provide a food supply that stretches around the world. Increasing their costs could jeopardize that supply.

Water Supply

From: Bettina Boxall, LA Times

Water managers Monday urged Californians to step up their conservation efforts, warning that many parts of the state could face water shortages next year if this winter proves to be another dry one.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Ian James, Desert Sun

Southern California water agencies are joining the state government in promoting a plan to build massive tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to carry water southward to farms and cities.

The Coachella Valley's largest water agencies hosted a workshop on Monday to tout the plan, with speakers who included Jerry Meral, deputy secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency.


From: William Frost, Cal Coast News  

An apparent consensus reached over the past several months is that a special water district is required to deal with the water crisis in San Luis Obispo's North County. The day-to-day actions of this district would be defined and administered by a board of directors, and it is essential that the election procedure for this board be designed to provide a fair and equitable representation to all water users in the district.

From: Garth Stapley, Modesto Bee

Questions about a potential groundwater crisis were as plentiful as the 200 people who gave up their Monday evening to attend a community meeting. Answers were much more scarce.

Experts painted a dire picture of what could happen because wealthy nut investors have planted millions of almond trees and sunk hundreds of gigantic wells to water them, saying groundwater could vanish under that land and suck neighbors dry as well.

Water Quality 

From: Press Release, Central Coast Groundwater Coalition 

The State Water Board on September 24 extended the deadline to join a groundwater cooperative program and opened the opportunity for additional programs to be created or expanded.  The newly created Central Coast Groundwater Cooperative (CCGC) is taking the steps necessary to expand membership to landowners/growers in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and northern Ventura counties, the entire area encompassed by the Region 3 Water Board.

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