EDITORIAL: Congress' drought legislation an arid offering Drought and doubt over Congress' dusty solutions
From: Staff, Los Angeles Times
Masquerading as a response to California's drought, a bill to waive environmental protections and divert more water to Central Valley agriculture passed the Republican-controlled House in February and is now going to conference to be reconciled with a competing bill by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that the Senate adopted last month.
Coalition response... Water diversions have been far below the amount allowable under the Endangered Species Act. Senator Feinstein's bill requires federal fishery managers to operate the system at the upper end of the allowable range rather than the lower end, as they have been doing.
Sadly, California's water supply system is being operated with anything BUT science and expertise. Water diversions have been cut numerous times this year because of an arbitrary date on the calendar, not based on whether water operations would harm endangered fish. At the time exports pumps have been slowed to protect fish, virtually none of the fish that the ESA is intended to protect were detected near the pumps. The regulatory agencies couldn't say where the fish were for sure, or if they were even in the Delta. But they dried up farms...just to be on the safe side.
The House bill is an attempt to bring some sanity to the ESA so adequate water can be delivered to grow food and meet the domestic needs of 25 million people while still protecting the threatened and endangered fish the ESA is supposed to protect. Chinook salmon continue to suffer (although a recent rebound is encouraging) despite the fact that we are delivering LESS water to farms this year than we did in 1977-78, California's worst recorded drought year.
From: Richard Foss & Brittany Woolsey, Orange County Register
Growers at farmers markets these days all voice the same one-word concern: water. Those who buy their water from municipalities are paying much more for it, and some of those who are dependent on state allocations can't get it at any price. The most fortunate are those who have wells on their property, but even they aren't resting easy.
From: Dan Charles, NPR
Imagine if a gallon of milk cost $3 in your town, but 100 miles away it cost $100, or even $200.
Something similar is happening right now in California with water that farmers use to irrigate their crops. Some farmers are paying 50 or even 100 times more for that water than others who live just an hour's drive away. The situation is provoking debate about whether water in California should move more freely, so that it can be sold to the highest bidder.
From: Sharon Bernstein, Reuters
With California facing its worst drought in decades, farmers, environmentalists and government officials begged lawmakers Monday to invest in projects to shore up the state's water supply.
The demands from Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, The Nature Conservancy and Northern California water districts are an effort to help break a deadlock in the state legislature over how to prevent future water shortages.
From: Matt Weiser, Sacramento Bee
Cynical observers of California politics sometimes assume the real reason for a new statewide water bond is to pay for projects that take water from the north and ship it south. But on Monday, a number of Northern California leaders made it clear they are prepared to support a water bond for the November ballot - under certain conditions.
From: John Holland, Modesto Bee
The City Council could take another step Tuesday evening on a proposal to sell treated wastewater to West Side farmers.
The council will consider contributing $666,810 toward the next stage of planning for the project, which would supply the Del Puerto Water District with reclaimed water from Turlock and Modesto. Modesto would pay $745,258 and the district would kick in $156,897 under a 2010 agreement for sharing the planning costs.
From: Peter Gleick & Kate Poole, Sacramento Bee
California has reached "peak water." We've far exceeded the limits of our renewable and sustainable supply. The current severe drought has highlighted these limits and shown us the stark reality of a water system in need of new thinking, new strategies and new answers.
From: Jay Lund, UC Davis California WaterBlog
Removing sediment from reservoirs is often suggested as a potentially better way to expand storage capacity than raising dam heights or building new reservoirs. This is a natural notion to explore given the cost and likely environmental impacts of traditional expansions.