A lesson in water politics

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Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Original Post - Feb 12, 2014 - 01:04pm PT
There's a drought persisting in California, you may have heard. The drought actually exceeds the boundaries of the Golden State - most western states are feeling a tad thirsty these days.

Worrying became complaining as one water authority after another announced first voluntary and then mandatory water rationing for their water users. Complaining grew loud enough to be heard in Washington.

WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!

So a few Californian GOP congresspersons drew up a bill which the GOP-controlled House dutifully passed mostly on party lines. Provisions of this bill include gutting the San Joaquin river restoration plan for the sole benefit of San Joaquin water district farmers. Nothing so satisfying as killing a river twice, eh?

San Jose Mercury News: HR 3964, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act, would let more water be sent southward from federal pumps in the Delta to San Joaquin Valley farms. To do that, it would roll back federal environmental protections, halt restoration of the San Joaquin River's flow and salmon habitat, and pre-empt various state water and endangered-species laws. The bill is co-sponsored by every California House Republican.

But Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, said Tuesday that "this piece of legislation has nothing to do with water; it has nothing to do with public policy. It has everything to do with politics."

Thompson was referring to the flood of goodwill it could bring Republicans in a few Central Valley swing districts in this year's midterm elections. "It's an opportunity to politically help a couple of members of Congress, and it's a distraction from what we should be doing," he said.

Thompson said he discussed the drought and the GOP bill with President Barack Obama during the House Democratic Caucus' meeting Tuesday at the White House. "With about 10 seconds of explanation, he saw though the charade," he said. "He also pointed out what we all know: He said, 'There's no way that bill becomes law.'"

And the GOP house dutifully lined up like school boys to pass it. I think the GOP-sponsored house bill was designed to go down in defeat, this to rally red district voters to GOP candidates in the mid-term elections.

This week the Senate announced its version of a water bill. This bill does not include the San Joaquin River Killer Provision. It does not suspend the clean air and water acts as does the GOP water bill. And in a lesson to the abysmal GOP leadership, Senators Feinstein and Boxer demonstrate how to build support (by including the Klammath basin in Oregon in their bill). I think they actually want their bill to pass and President Obama says he'll sign it.

What WILL the GOP do???? Obstruct? Odds on this favorite dark horse.

Now me? I don't think any water bill is ever going to slake California thirst. I think 'if you pump it they will consume it.' There is no amount of pumpable water that will go un-consumed.

In other words, if we the people pay to pump more water, people other than ourselves will consume that water until there is no more left. Then the Golden State will be in the exact same position as it is now, but with even more water debt.

I think conservation is the only viable answer. Use what is available to you at market rates; no ag subsidies. Folks should pay market rates for their farm produce; let the capitalists enjoy the full flavor of their full priced fruits!

I say NO to the Delta water tunnel project. I say NO to pumping more Trinity River into the Mendota Sink, for the benefit of maybe a thousand farms and their big ag investors. (trot out the 'family farmer' if you must but I am going to laugh at you). Say NO to more water to L.A.

USE WHAT YOU HAVE.

If we are to become more sustainable, ground water rights must be removed from private hands. Eminent Domain? I think it is time to consider it. The idea that the water beneath a farm is owned by that farm is antiquated bullshit based on ignorance of how the water came to be there and how long ago it took place and the true replenishment rates (ie less than zero).

WE THE PEOPLE own that water. Its time to truly socialize our water supply.

But let's tackle health care first - its the easier problem to solve. The great western cowboy ethic (built on eastern subsidies) is proving as unsustainable as most other desert cultures in the past. Utterly unsustainable.

Until then? Just say NO to Westland Water District and L.A. water grabs.

NO.

DMT

ps.

http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_25063251/california-drought-house-water-bill-exposes-deep-partisan

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303874504579377241109393218?mg=reno64-wsj&url=http%3A%2F%2Fonline.wsj.com%2Farticle%2FSB10001424052702303874504579377241109393218.html
moosedrool

climber
Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:16pm PT
Good post, DMT.

Andrzej
Cragar

climber
MSLA - MT
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:17pm PT
yeah for sure chim, thanks dmt. I hope more folks pay attention to this sort of thing, like they do about the economy.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 01:21pm PT
So long as you include Nevada 'bread basket' ag users, I concur. But I know you don't....

DMT
moosedrool

climber
Stair climber, lost, far away from Poland
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:23pm PT
Fuk LA, but leave Vegas alone! It is a national treasure!!!

lol

Andrzej
jonnyrig

Trad climber
formerly known as hillrat
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:28pm PT
Not just in California.

http://m.reviewjournal.com/news/eastern-nevada-pipeline-opponents-win-court-ruling

Better half studied environmental law, emphasis on water law. It will eventually become a much bigger issue as the population grows, especially if things continue to dry up.

Meanwhile, we,re starting to get sediment in our well. Dam it.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 01:30pm PT
Sorry to hear that johnnyrig. Nothing so personal as when the water dries up.

Water is life.

Miss you Brutus!

DMT
locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:40pm PT


"Sad thing is when those rains do come, over 60% of all that rain water throughout California will go straight to the Pacific Ocean. As it always has. Typical.

What ever....."
...


^^^

Yeah...

let's just all turn our sprinklers on and leave them on...


Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 01:48pm PT
F*#king drought, man!!!



In a year from now, when the ceaseless rains of El Nino come, you'll be whining about being flooded out. As well as all the others. Just like they all did back in the Springs of 75' and 83'.

Sad thing is when those rains do come, over 60% of all that rain water throughout California will go straight to the Pacific Ocean. As it always has. Typical.

What ever.....

A couple of weeks ago you were all 'mega-drought' now you're all El Nino. Whatever, indeed.

The water is supposed to reach the Pacific. That's why there are rivers.

DMT
JEleazarian

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:49pm PT
Here in the Big Raisin, I love watching our SF Senators get in on the act. The hypocrisy of their environmental politics stands out in bold relief.


Funny how the Toulumne naturally flows into the San Joaquin River which flows into the Delta, yet no Hetch Hetchy water gets cut to increase Delta flow and "restore" the San Joaquin. Any threat of that makes them sound like a GOP congressman, and suddenly admit that the highest and best economic use of water should determine how we allocate it, rather than religion.

Groundwater is a mineral. It is no different from petroleum in that regard, except that the water table gets replenished. Your suggestion that we end private ownership of it has some merit, since right now we have the equivalent of common ownership, and "The Tragedy of the Commons" is playing out before our eyes. What is not clear to me is that government ownership of the aquifer will lead to a more fair or efficient allocation of the water rights than private ownership using mineral rights doctrines already established.

All law remains in development, but Western water law seems even more so. Yours was a good post and will, I hope, start a good discussion. I hope Wes is lurking in a way that he can contribute, too, but I think you've given us a good start.

John

locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:51pm PT


"Oh, you won't need to. Mother Nature will be doing that for you."...



You do not believe that we have CHANGED our environment with pollution???...

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 01:52pm PT
Thanks John I was hoping you'd post.

DMT
klk

Trad climber
cali
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:53pm PT
In a year from now, when the ceaseless rains of El Nino come, you'll be whining about being flooded out.

it is true that drought and extreme flooding seem ot have gone together, at least since the pleistocene.

not that mysterious-- drought periods tend also to be significantly warmer periods-- that means that precipitation that does fall is likelier to cause catastrophic snow melt, which seems to have been one of the proximate causes of the great historic floods.

groundwater mining in the sj valley has created a 1200 sq. mile subsidence zone-- south of merced, the ground has been dropping a foot per year.

at some point, the inland sea is going to return. and it's entirely possible, even probable, that it'll happen in the midst of a a year or a dace marked by drought.
a recent survey of water experts in each and every sector, irrigation districts, farm consultants, water law and policy experts, usgs, academic, and politicians devoted to water issues, found that "politicians" were the only group that viewed dams as a good remedy to the state's water issues.

no one else, not even the farm district managers, shared that enthusiasm.

edit to link to lynn ingram's new book-- it's a popular account of the most recent work-- she's the leading authority on pleistoce megadroughts. pretty good, given the difficulties of explaining the science to a lay audience

http://www.amazon.com/The-West-without-Water-Droughts/dp/0520268555

locker

Social climber
Some Rehab in Bolivia
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:54pm PT


"WTF does that have to do with the huge amounts of water that will come in deluge proportions when EL NINO commences?"...

I'm beginning to wonder that myself...

LMAO!!!...

;-)

Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 01:56pm PT
Thanks John I was hoping you'd post.

DMT

The Chief

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

WTF does that have to do with the huge amounts of water that will come in deluge proportions when EL NINO commences?

I was simply thanking John for his attention to this thread. He and I have a positive relationship but somewhat opposing view of San Joaquin valley water politics. He is learned and loves his valley lifestyle. He is my Loyal Opposition and a friend to boot.

Really has nothing to do with El Nino though.

DMT
dirtbag

climber
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:58pm PT
Chiefy you really are dumber than a pile of rocks. Jeezus...
klk

Trad climber
cali
Feb 12, 2014 - 01:59pm PT
the chief, no one competent shares the view that lots more reservoirs will do much that's useful.

more localized storage, on the other hand, while not good political theater, is actually something that a lot of folks agree could be really helpful. within that broad consensus, folks are debating whether groundwater storage or small pond/reservoir storage is best. i can't claim to have the personal technical expertise to intervene in that debate, except to say that groundwater storage can't happen unless we regulate pumping and quit subsidizing water mining.

dmt is spot on with the westlands debacle. huge civil war right now between the east and westside sj folks.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 02:00pm PT
Good point rSin. But you can't use an aquifer you don't own.... hence the eminent domain play.

Abominations like the Cadiz Corp. proposal to mine and market fossilized Mojave aquifer water to L.A. suburbs is a perfect example of water THEFT.

DMT
dirtbag

climber
Feb 12, 2014 - 02:01pm PT
Eminent domain would be cost prohibitive.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 12, 2014 - 02:04pm PT
Groundwater is a mineral. It is no different from petroleum in that regard, except that the water table gets replenished.

Uh, no... it doesn't get replenished. Not in the San Joaquin Valley anyway. That's a big part of the problem, mate. Treating fossilized aquifers as 'renewable' is... fanciful thinking at best. Putting on my cynical glasses, this is more like cooking the last of the hot dogs while Rome burns.

DMT
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