What’s more fragile - the Delta or the BDCP process?
An editorial in the May 13th Sacramento Bee titled “Water contractors need to get real” raises a question about what the real is.
My sense is that the Bee’s and the SJV water contractors’ versions are not the same.
One, the editorial calls out the state’s water contractors’ wavering on their financial commitments to a BDCP process - one that is already in the nine figures, btw - a process that is probably more fragile than the Delta’s ecosystem.
And who can blame the water contractors for all of the wavering? Are they not allowed to avoid what they perceive to be throwing good money after bad?
Two, that those same contractors are the parties responsible for providing conclusive scientific analysis and presumably the ensuing development policies for restoring/enhancing/stabilizing (which of these is not entirely clear) the Delta’s ecosystem.
Good luck meeting that criteria, water contractors. Because there has to be a scientific Holy Grail that neither Cal-Fed nor the BDCP did not find despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on funded research?
I digress, but it’s funny thing about blogging on the subject of the Delta and Cal water in general. Unless a post really upsets one side or another, no one seems compelled to comment. For example, when I write that the future of water in California is not a scientific problem, no one (except John Fleck, who might just agree, or at least understands the argument) weighs in. Why is that?
Three, the Bee’s editorial reminded the water contractors that the purpose of the process was not to increase the quantity of water supply, but rather its reliability.
I’m a corporate or family run agribusiness on the west side, getting my average 30-40% (or whatever) annual water, and I’m paying for a process that isnt going to get me more water?!? David Zetland said this best when he wrote about the way the SJV political operatives are going after this:
A law requiring reliable allocation is easy to implement: water contractors will get a RELIABLE allocation of, say, 25 percent of their “rights” (the amount equal to the LOWEST possible flow), since that’s 100 percent reliable. Additional, UNRELIABLE flows will be allocated if/when they arrive (as they are now).
Anyway, I offered the following in the comments section for the SacBee editorial:
The editorial suggests that the onus is on the water contractors to “lay out scientifically defensible steps for improving populations of imperiled fish” in the Delta. But in this context, the scrum that is “science” makes that an all but impossible standard to meet. I mean, how much competent science leading to inconclusive policies needs to be commissioned before smart people admit that this is not a problem of science?
And while it might be true that environmental regulation has been effective in reining in the most rapacious of water ideologues, this will continue only so long as the public supports environmental regulation. Devin Nunes and his SJV colleagues on both sides of the aisle are working a long anti-environment game on that front.
There is nothing particularly groundbreaking about the Bee’s position here. Or provocative, since it is nothing more than a proclamation supporting the status quo. Provocative would have been for the editorial board to either support the wholesale buyout of the toxic west side agricultural bloc or administering the last rites to a Delta on life support. Hard to not see this process playing out more in black and white than shades of gray.
As M. David Stirling writes, also in today’s Bee, giant tunnels or canals aren’t the only solution, despite the warm and fuzzy feeling bureaucrats, technocrats, and big engineering firms get when they argue that they are the only way.
Super-sized levees can do an awful lot of work. They would provide significant upgrades to flood and earthquake risks. If designed as setback levees, then they also can yield thousands of acres of estuary habitat.
I’m not sure if Delta landowners understand that implication of the latter, so-called Fortress Delta option, or that they like that very much, by the way…but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.