California commentary: December 4 through 10

BDCP is not a good deal for Sacramento, says Sacramento City Council member Darrell Fong:  Besides the cost, and the draining of Folsom Dam to dead pool one out of every ten years, climate change impacts already threaten the city’s supplies:  ” … We’ve already begun to prepare for the reduced reliability of water flow. The city of Sacramento has reduced water consumption by 22 percent since 2000 and will have invested $350 million to enhance water efficiency by 2025. It would be patently unfair for us to have worked so hard to conserve, only to see our water savings literally sucked down the drain by the sprawling communities of Southern California and the mega-farms in the Central Valley. … ” Read the commentary here:  There’s no good deal for Sacramento in the Delta tunnels

Brown should kill the tunnels not High Speed Rail, says the East Bay Express:  ” … As the Express reported earlier this year in a two-part series, the water tunnels threaten to destroy the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and its endangered fisheries, while mostly benefiting large and politically influential agribusinesses in the arid San Joaquin Valley. High-speed rail, by contrast, could actually improve the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state, according to a study co-authored by UC Berkeley professor Arpad Horvath. High-speed rail also would benefit far more Californians, especially Bay Area residents, than the massive water tunnels plan. … “  Read the full text of the editorial here:  Brown Should Kill the Water Tunnels — Not High-Speed Rail

Huffman supports the “portfolio alternative: He writes: ” …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.  Unfortunately, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has ignored those principles. … “  Read his letter to the editor here:  California deserves a sustainable water plan

The Sacramento Bee posts responses to last Sunday’s Conversation on the BDCP: The Bee posts letters to the editor as well as some Facebook exchanges between the California Farm Water Coalition and others on Facebook.  I suppose it’s no surprise the response was overwhelmingly negative.  Read it all here:  The Conversation: One Shot to Save Delta Ecology

Release of BDCP documents sets off fierce battle, says Dan Walters:  “Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration released two massive documents Monday, detailing its plans to build twin tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and complete the last link of the water system his father began more than a half-century ago.  Minutes later, opponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan declared that they will use every available legal and political process to kill it.  The battle will be joined early next year in a series of hearings on the plan and the accompanying environmental impact report, which together comprise tens of thousands of pages aimed, it’s said, at improving both water supply reliability and the Delta’s environment.  … “  Read more from Dan Walters here: Dan Walters: Release of twin tunnels plan touches off a fierce battle

San Joaquin River Restoration not nearly as successful as it may sound, says Cannon Michael:  ” …The San Joaquin River Restoration Program is quickly approaching an important deadline set forth in the settlement that was entered into by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Friant Division and the Bureau of Reclamation. The settlement calls for 10 projects (known as Phase 1) that all agreed were to be completed by Dec. 31 of this year. These mandated and “necessary” projects are major channel improvements, fish screens and structural changes that all parties recognize as “highest priority improvements” for the restoration. Their completion is essential to meaningful restoration and fish survival.   All parties agreed. So now, how are the improvements coming along? How has the river changed since the 2006 settlement? … “  Read the commentary here:  Cannon Michael: River is wet, but money has dried up

Governor’s Water Action Plan and State Water Board at odds, says Steve Knell, General Manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District:  “The Brown administration recently released a draft California Water Action Plan, the purpose of which is to outline and address the state’s water challenges and provide sustainable management goals for our water resources. The action plan includes a suite of recommendations that, if implemented, would provide sound water policy guidance.  Unfortunately, there are those in Sacramento whose agenda differs from that of the governor.  The State Water Resources Control Board is in the process of establishing a contrarian vision to the world of water for California. The state water board is reviewing water quality objectives on the San Joaquin River under its Phase 1 review of the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco-Sacramento Bay Delta Estuary. In this Phase I review, the board is proposing actions that directly conflict with the governor’s action plan and that will directly impact our water and our livelihood to our long-term detriment. ... “  Read more from the Modesto bee here: Steve Knell: Governor’s plan and state water board plan at odds

Desal fight is about growth, not about protecting marine life: The appeal of the project is reliability, says Poseidon VP Scott Maloni: : “We don’t have to wait for a court to decide whether or not to halt water supplies (from the Delta).” The Carlsbad facility will provide no more than 10 percent of the county’s water supplies, but that’s a significant portion that officials know will be there.  Many environmentalists aren’t as worried about sea life as they are about growth, Maloni argues. More water means more people, more freeways, more subdivisions. These groups argue for water conservation instead, but Californians use far less water per capita than they used in the 1970s. Water officials want new water sources, also – and “desal” can help the environment by leaving more water in the ecosystem. … “  Read this column by Steve Greenhut in the San Diego Union-Tribune here:  Column: Desal battle over growth, not plankton

Trust is a two-street, says Assemblyman Roger Dickinson:  For years Sacramento battled with EBMUD over diversions from the American River, until they finally sat down and worked out a deal.  It only worked because participants took the time to understand the views and interests of each side and to build trust among themselves, Assemblyman Dickinson writes in today’s Sacramento Bee:  “A similarly collaborative approach should be undertaken with regard to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Unfortunately, however, the parties pushing this project have displayed scant interest in working with Northern California to develop a plan that would serve the needs and requirements of all Californians. Monday’s release of more than 30,000 pages of an environmental impact report that purports to justify the current Bay Delta Conservation Plan project only underscores the need for statewide collaboration. … The desire of south San Joaquin Valley agricultural interests and Southern California water contractors to have an assured and massive source of water to satisfy their customers is manifest. Indeed, the demands of the State Water Contractors are so great that they completely unbalance California’s legislatively declared coequal goals of ecological restoration and preservation of the Delta and a reliable supply of water for the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California. … “  Read the full commentary here:  When it comes to re-plumbing the Delta, trust is a two-way street

New technology can’t replace water on the farm, say Charles Wilson and Mike Wade:  Over the past years, California farmers have employed technology, boosting their productivity and while becoming more water efficient, write Charles Wilson (SCWC) and Mike Wade (CFWC) in the Daily Breeze, noting that from 1967 to 2007 the volume of crop production increased 85 percent while the amount of on-farm applied water declined by 14.5 percent.  ” … Consumers in the United States pay just 6.2 percent of their disposable income per year (2010) on food and non-alcoholic beverages. That’s compared to a rate of 10.2 percent in 28 other high-income countries. At the same 10.2 percent rate, it would cost Americans an additional $3,820 per year to feed their families, a huge savings.  Agriculture is among the top 10 contributors to California’s GDP. The value of farm products sold in 2012 totaled $44.7 billion. According to the University of California, more than 1.3 million jobs are created by farming, including ripple effects, such as transportation, processing, ports, and warehousing. The economic activity generated by farming is worth more than $112 billion per year to California’s economy.  But the real benefit of California farms is that families throughout the state have access to a huge variety of affordable, locally grown produce. … “  The commentary goes on to argue for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.  Read the full commentary here:  New farming technology can’t replace need for water: Guest commentary

The Press Enterprise says Eastern Municipal Water District has some explaining to do:  “Leaving troubling questions unanswered does not build confidence in a public agency. Eastern Municipal Water District officials need to give ratepayers a full accounting for a $60,000 outlay on a secret public relations campaign in another county. Even a high-stakes legal battle does not excuse the water district from accountability. … “  Read the full editorial here:  EDITORIAL: Don’t duck accountability for dubious PR spending