Tuesday, December 3, 2013

News articles and links from December 3, 2013

Water Use

From: Curtis Knight and Glen Spain, Sacramento Bee

Recent droughts, wildfires and floods throughout the West point to one stark reality: An integrated approach to water management is essential to securing our region's long-term prosperity. A long history of divvying up water too freely among competing interests has left none satisfied. We continue to live with an over-appropriated water system that pits farmers against fisheries and urban users against agriculture.

If we are to thrive, or even survive, it's time to step out of our narrow perspectives. We must embrace a more coordinated approach that recognizes that many of our rivers are altered landscapes. Today's working watersheds provide drinking water, produce hydropower, grow food, provide recreational opportunities and support valuable fisheries for commercial, sport and tribal interests. Saving these working watersheds can no longer mean rewinding them back to some pristine, romantic past. We must instead craft comprehensive and durable water management solutions for the modern world.

Coalition response... The legislature of California has directed urban and agricultural water sectors to seek quantification of water use efficiency. Any comprehensive integrated approach to water management must include responsible, efficient management of environmental water uses such as fisheries as well.  The people of California have a right to know that their scarce resources, whether monetary or water are being used productively.

California's cities and farms have committed tremendous resources developing and implementing water management plans that seek to quantify the water use efficiency in each sector- any federal funding of a Klamath Settlement Agreement should make provision to ensure that water being used by fisheries and the environment are being responsibly and efficiently managed.

Water Supply

From: Dan Lungren, John Van de Kamp, L.A. Times

One hundred years ago this month, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Raker Act, which allowed San Francisco to build a dam in Yosemite National Park and convert the spectacular Hetch Hetchy Valley into a municipal reservoir.

As native Californians who have often visited Yosemite, we can think of no greater crime committed against the national parks. But it's not too late to undo the damage. We should take the opportunity of this centennial to reform San Francisco's water system and return Hetch Hetchy Valley to the American people.

From: Jamie Hansen, The Press Democrat

Rex Williams' sheep normally are munching green grass in early December. But this year, one of the driest on record, the land he leases remains mostly brown.

"We planted our winter crop into dust, dry ground," Williams said. Hardly any grass germinated, so Williams has been forced to feed hay to his sheep months earlier than normal.

"It's scary; we've never been in a situation like this before," said Williams, who's been ranching about 23 years. "We've always had some grass to go to."

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

From: Jared Huffman, San Jose Mercury News 

The Mercury News editorial (Nov. 24) asked exactly the right question: How much water is needed to bring the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta back to health? When I served in the Assembly, we passed comprehensive bills that recognized the need for meaningful water conservation goals, regional self-reliance and improved groundwater management. The linchpin of that package, the Delta Reform Act, directed state agencies to reduce reliance on San Francisco Bay and the Delta and to develop a plan to ensure that the bay-Delta ecosystem and wild fisheries would always have enough fresh water to thrive.


From: Dennis Taylor, Bakersfield Californian

A coalition of environmental groups and an elderly Monterey County woman filed a lawsuit against state water regulators for failing to protect the public from toxic agricultural discharge.

The suit, filed on behalf of Antonia Manzo, a Monterey County resident, by Monterey-based The Otter Project and Monterey Coastkeeper and five other organizations, alleges that the state Water Board passed a regulation governing agricultural discharge that is so weak it is in violation of state law.

From: Mike Nelson, Sacramento Bee

Re "Dry winter ahead, state's experimental forecast warns" (Our Region, Nov. 30): Another year of drought? No worries. We'll just pump more water from that infinite source, the underground aquifer. That seems to be the attitude of the wine industry that continues to deeply rip the land around Galt, Lodi, Elk Grove and Herald. And these are not mom-and-pop operations at work. I am all for agriculture that puts food on our tables, not wine on tables in China.

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