California commentaries and editorials for November 27 to December 3

Here’s a compilation of commentaries and editorials on California water issues appearing in newspapers across the state this past week:

The Sacramento Bee’s Conversation tackles the twin tunnels: Are they good or bad for the environment? The Sunday feature starts out with an essay by DWR’s Dennis McEwan: ““Denny, you and your environmentalist buddies better vote for this thing, ’cause it’s the best deal you’re ever going to get.” Those words were spoken by my father in 1982, extolling me to vote “yes” on Proposition 9, the referendum on the peripheral canal. He was a 30-plus-year, veteran engineer with the California Department of Water Resources, and I was a 20-something idealistic college student majoring in conservation biology. As such, we couldn’t have been further apart on water issues in this state. But this was different – I had spent a lot of time researching this issue for my own personal enlightenment, and the conclusion I arrived at was that the peripheral canal was, conceptually, a good thing for the environment. In the end, however, I joined the majority of California voters and voted it down, not because I believed the rhetoric that it would be the death of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, but because I didn’t believe that this was the best deal for the environment. So here we are 31 years later – what has changed? … ” Read the full essay here: The Delta, the plumbing and rectifying the problem 

Groundwater needs to be controlled, says the Modesto Bee:  With farmers putting in more permanent crops, such as almonds or walnuts, there’s a need for regular water supplies:  “Trees … need about 36 inches of water every year. If they don’t get it, they die and the farmer’s investment is lost. That’s why farmers without water guaranteed by irrigation districts usually plant row crops or use their land for cattle.  Now, some well-financed farmers without those guarantees are opting to drill deep wells and use high-capacity pumps to tap the aquifers beneath their land. There are dozens of permits awaiting action by Stanislaus County; hundreds of wells have already been drilled and millions of gallons of water are already coming up from underground.The problem is that the aquifers don’t stop at anyone’s property line. … “  Read more of this editorial from the Modesto Bee here:  Our view: We can’t afford to run dry

Governor ignoring the water crisis, says the Porterville Recorder: Noting the dry conditions statewide, the editorial says: ” … All this dire news and the state has not declared a drought emergency. During past dry years and former governors, drought emergencies were declared, but Gov. Brown has yet to act. About all the governor has done is proposed a couple of tunnels under the San Joaquin Delta that will take decades to be completed and do nothing to provide more storage of water. It has been several decades since the state added any storage, yet thousands of acres of farmland have been added and more than a million residents have been added in the state. All need water to survive. … “  Read more here: Are state legislators ignoring water crisis

State needs to plan better for drought, says the Chico Enterprise-Record:A cascade of bad news about water makes us suddenly aware of something — we’re in a drought. If you doubt that, look at the brown hills, the diminishing lake levels and even the wildfire warnings, all of which makes it feel like September, not December. Shouldn’t we be seeing some rain by now? The problems are getting serious. Last week the state announced to water contractors — farms and cities — how much of their annual water allotment they could expect from the state next spring. The answer: 5 percent. … ” Continue reading at the Chico Enterprise-Record here: Editorial: No remedy for drought in sight

We must address our water use, says columnist:The average Californian uses about 1,500 gallons of water every day. What? 1,500 gallons of water is a very long shower! That can’t be right; can it? One thousand, five hundred gallons per day includes all the water used in the state divided by all the people in the state. In other words, 1,500 gallons includes all the water that it takes to water plants, wash cars, manufacture things, and run households. The good news is that the average for the country is 1,600 gallons per day, per person. So, in comparison to the rest of the country, we’re pretty good. Unfortunately, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced on Nov. 20 that the initial allocation of water through the state water project contractors is going to be 5 percent. What? That’s a misprint, right? It has to be! No. It’s not. … ” Columnist Matt LeVesque runs down the good news and the bad news of our water situation. Continue reading at Redlands Daily Facts here: Water use is a problem we must address now

Klamath Basin Settlement Agreement good for California fishes and farms, says commentary:  We live in an over-appropriated system and the reality is the only way out of this is integrated water management, say Curtis Knight of Cal Trout and Glen Spain with the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations: … ” … 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.  This type of integrated thinking is being put to work in the Klamath River Basin, straddling the California-Oregon border. ... ”  Read more at the Sacramento Bee here: Viewpoints: A healthy Klamath River benefits California fisheries and farms

Hetch Hetchy can be restored, say Dan Lungren and John Van De Kamp:  “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. … “  Read more here:  Restore Yosemite? It can be done.

Why restore the LA River to its destructive and deadly state, asks Ralph Shaffer, a Cal Poly professor:  ” … The new reformers want to ride kayaks through the brush, encourage wildlife to seek sanctuary in the stream, and to make the river once again a place of recreation, beauty and life. But the river that had those qualities was also a deadly and costly river, repeatedly flooding the pueblo and then the city until the public rallied behind the need to transform it into a flood control channel. That decision did not come easily or inexpensively. … ”  Read more at the Los Angeles Daily News here:  Why do we want to restore L.A. River to its destructive and deadly state?

Compiled/written by Chris “Maven” Austin