Home Ice bergs Editorial: Recall contenders have superficial opinions on California’s water problems

Editorial: Recall contenders have superficial opinions on California’s water problems


California suffers from extremely dry conditions, so it stands to reason that candidates trying to oust and replace Gov. Gavin Newsom have clung to persistent but extremely superficial and woefully outdated claims about the management of the water supply. of State.

Their argument is that without Newsom (or even any Democrats) in the governor’s mansion, we would have more dams, fewer wildfires, greener fields, longer showers, lush lawns and just as much water. drinking pure and fresh as possible.

The irony is that Newsom has actually been strong enough for agriculture and weak enough for the environment, resulting in a lot of grumbling among fish advocates and others in the environmental community – so much so. that many are talking about not participating in this election because after all, how much worse would a Larry Elder or a Kevin Faulconer be than Newsom on water and the environment?

What do we say: are you serious? If the top candidates really believe the nonsense they tell about California water and one of them gets elected and continues with their simplistic statements, it would be a disaster for the state. Yes, environmentalists, a disaster more serious than the one the state is currently facing. Much bigger.

Most of the proposed post-Newsom water reforms are tired talking points rooted in the 1970s, a time when population growth and expansion of farmland were seen as net benefits, and climate change from human origin was not yet felt and unknown. Some of the candidates at least recognize that we are warming the planet and changing climate models, but their water policies remain tied to an understanding of reality that is half a century old.

And some of their positions are not only outdated, but delusional – like MP Kevin Kiley ‘s claim that droughts are “entirely preventable” and that nature has absolutely nothing to do with water scarcity. No, not even now, with a shocking Sierra snow cap and soil so dry it sucks in slush, leaving little runoff to fill the lakes and streams. And not even with Lake Mead (the source of much of Southern California’s water) at its lowest level since the Hoover Dam opened in 1935.

It’s an old phrase: droughts are bogus, water shortages are human inventions. President Trump did not invent this view, but it was natural to him and he made it known in 2016 during his campaign, as it was adopted by the economically dominated Central Valley counties. Agriculture.

Broken down into its components, the argument includes the claim that after the construction of the New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River in the late 1970s, California lost its mojo and never built a new dam again for cope with the growing population and its needs. The perennial candidate John Cox, in particular, makes this claim.

This urban myth is undermined with every glass of water taken in Los Angeles or much of the rest of Southern California. Before we came out of our taps, much of our water was stored in Diamond Valley Lake, a reservoir near Hemet completed in 2003. Many Bay Area residents drink the same (and farm fields irrigate ) of Los Vaqueros Reservoir, midway between Walnut Creek and Tracy, completed in 1998 and on the drawing board for major expansion.

We have indeed continued to build water projects, mainly for people, as opposed to cows and almond trees. Newer projects should be, and generally are, judged by how much water they will produce and for whom. Given the state’s hydrology and the straightforward facts about where water is and is not, this means more extension land and restored floodplains to allow runoff for during years of flooding to recharge groundwater, which has been overexploited by agricultural interests. This means recovering and purifying more water from runoff and municipal waste.

Lake Mead will not be full in our lifetime, because after a prolonged drought and diversions for human needs, there is simply not enough running water to fill it. Responding to a water shortage by building more empty dams is a bit like responding to a money shortage by building more empty banks. Lack of supply and lack of storage are not the same thing.

What about desalination? Of course, of course, where projects make sense and taxpayers reap the benefits. Many desalination projects are hampered not by a lack of engineering or willpower, but by intense energy demands and costs, and financial shenanigans that force taxpayers to obtain water they do not need. or which they don’t want.

Another idea of ​​the 20th century is to go far to collect and bring back water from elsewhere. The plans included dragging icebergs across the ocean and the late Lyndon LaRouche’s plan to divert Alaskan snowmelt to a canyon in the Rocky Mountains and then to California.

Kevin Paffrath, a leading Democrat running to replace Newsom, wants to get water from the Mississippi River. We can admire the boldness of the device while noting that the construction and management costs and environmental damage would be lower, and the water yield greater, with targeted investments to develop rainwater and wastewater closer to at home.

Yet Paffrath’s plan is not entirely irrelevant to a Democrat, few of whom have been the environmental puritans that Republicans like to caricature. Water conservationists aren’t fans of US Senator Dianne Feinstein, whom they see as bidding Big Agriculture, or Governor Jerry Brown, who lobbied for two huge tunnels to direct water from the Sacramento River south.

Their aversion to Newsom centers on his insistence on so-called “voluntary agreements” – talks
among agricultural water users, conservationists and regulators on acceptable levels of water flowing in rivers to support migratory fish. These talks have so far resulted in numerous delays and missed deadlines, and no real agreement.

Are Democrats, conservationists and other natural allies of Newsom really so angry with the governor’s environmental policies that they would prefer a governor with a water program based on climate denial and nostalgia dams? We will find out soon enough.