A few thoughts about recent California water news

A few recent events sum up many of key dilemmas California faces as it considers its next generation of water security questions. Let’s look at the key links, in order of significance:

1/ Questions about whether the Cal Water FIx will effectively manage inevitable sea level rise. KCET reports that a now-projected 1.5-2 meter sea level rise by 2100 would bring salt water to the proposed twin tunnel intakes, raising serious questions about the premise of the project. The visitation to the pumps by salt water would only be aggravated by the loss of the pulse of Sacramento River downstream flows to Carquinez Strait induced by rerouting that water south to the San Joaquin Valley.

In fact, by outlining a scenario for extreme climate change-induced saltwater intrusion into the Delta, this study points to the Achilles’ heel of the Cal Water Fix premise. In no way have its advocates or technical experts conclusively described the science behind how diverting potentially a third to a half of the Sacramento River’s volume will aid in the restoration of the Delta’s ecosystem.

2/ A la the Panama Papers, will Westlands’ fiduciary agents will be punished for their possibly criminal practices? Enabled by an Obama Administration payout, Westlands’ corruption is implicitly given the okay to continue, and as it does, it continues laying waste to communities, children, and the environment. Reported by the Sacramento Bee’s Michael Doyle, Rep. Jared Huffman is looking into that deal, while Westlands officials say they’d be happy to “educate the public.” Maybe they could also educate the public about their Securities and Exchange violations, and what their strategy is for avoiding prison.

I like to dream of a day when the smug faces of Westlands’ influence peddlers will one day find themselves facing a courtroom full of the testifying mothers of sick kids whose drinking water was turned into a toxic soup of chemicals and selenium. The Obama Administration, entangled in this mess, would be wise to end them, now. Throwing good money after bad, and all, is never a good idea. End them. Give them their money.

3/ Westlands brings into focus the need for Californians to make choices about values. An aside, not in Maven’s digest, is more Westlands, this time a report from Fresno’s ABC30, by way of On the Public Record.

Yes, I long for the day when those mothers organize a political movement that is ready to apply some basic principles of environmental justice to uproot entitled bullies like “Buddy” from political office (see 0:30-1:10 of the video). Locally, it will take political power to keep Westlands’ selenium in the ground, so get organized, Ms. Jagannath. I’d be happy to help, if I can.

4/ Finally, the libertarians of the Delta, overreacting to news that is entirely unsurprising. Also unsurprising were their lawsuits, once confirmation came that the Metropolitan Water District had bought out the 25-year-old Delta Wetlands Project, a capitalist dream of turning the Delta into a reservoir and habitat mitigation bank transformed into a public utilities’ dream.

By anti-tunnel groups, there are the same tired invocations of Reiser and Chinatown water grabs, and Owens Valley, sure…but this really is not new news. I see the Met’s action here in a fiduciary way; much more as a short-term risk management investment by the most responsible actor in all of the state’s recent water intricacies. The Met may have had its power plays early in the 20th century, but to continuously invoke nearly hundred year-old events is absurd, especially when applied to a conservation-first, demonstrably responsible public agency.

5/ It’s been awhile since I last wrote something here, and I wish to make one last appeal. Please, Obama Administration, please talk to your working poor constituents in places like Cantua Creek (and not just the wealthy, government subsidized, well-funded and -represented)** before making your decisions about where to burnish your legacy in these last days of what has been a remarkably achievement-filled two terms.

**link to EWG Farm Subsidy Database via On the Public Record

Posted by John Bass on 20 Apr 2016 | Comments (1)


It’s strange all this happening in Obama’s administration!

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