[env-trinity] Fresno Bee Water Editorial

Byron bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Dec 19 14:22:46 PST 2005

Editorial: Water at the forefront; State's needs are growing, answers are
few. That must change

Fresno Bee – 12/18/05


Barely a day goes by without a new story emerging about water, and that's
been true for all of California's history.


Last week, it was fears about the quality of water supplies in poorer rural
communities in the Valley. Residents of towns like Parlier, Mendota, Alpaugh
and Raisin City often live with brackish brown tap water because they have
neither the local resources nor the political clout to fix things.

Before that we were reading about concerns over water that will limit
residential growth in the nearby foothills. The Fresno County Board of
Supervisors has taken steps to limit development in the Shaver Lake area.


We've been treated to the long-running legal pas de deux between
environmentalists and farmers over San Joaquin River water from Millerton
Lake — a hit show that's still running.


The deterioration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta — the linchpin
of California's complicated plumbing system — continues apace, although you
wouldn't know it from the apparent indifference or ignorance of many of our
elected leaders.


In the meantime, climate changes may radically alter the cycles of snow,
spring melt and percolation into the massive aquifer that is our principal
source of water in the Valley — or maybe not. Is this an El Niño year, or is
his sister, La Niña, on her way? And do they have any cousins we haven't met


Population growth continues the upward pressure on demand for water, and not
just any water, but water people can drink safely. Municipalities and
private residents alike have to drill deeper and deeper to reach potable
water in the Valley, and that costs more. We're using up the aquifer faster
than nature can replenish it.


And we still haven't got water meters up and running in Fresno.


We've got to get a handle on these problems or we will find ourselves one
day without sufficient water for all the fields and orchards, the shops and
factories, the homes and lawns. We won't have enough to drink, much less
bathe. But how?


Part of the problem is that authority over water matters is spread over a
wide and tangled web of bureaucracies. Federal, state and local agencies
each have a piece. Dams, lakes, rivers, canals and private wells are all
lodged under different roofs. And groundwater isn't regulated at all.


Getting all those varied and sometimes contentious people to the same table
is difficult. Getting them to actually solve problems is even harder —
witness the excruciatingly painful "progress" of the Cal-Fed process, an
attempt to bring federal, state and local interests all to the same page on
water issues. It's been years in the works and is barely breathing most of
the time. 


But we have to make the effort. Valley representatives in Washington, D.C.,
and Sacramento must find ways to collaborate in this effort. In the
meantime, people at the grass roots should be pushing their leaders to
action. New solutions must be found, and some old ones may bear a fresh


Conservation is crucial, but it may also be time for new storage facilities
— groundwater banking, for instance. Perhaps even new dams should be on the
table, despite their tremendous cost and environmental impacts.


Our old ways aren't going to work forever. Issues of water quality and
quantity affect us all, as we have begun to learn about air pollution. A new
year offers us a chance to get busy on new ways of doing things. Let's not
waste it.


Byron Leydecker

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

Advisor, California Trout, Inc

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 ph

415 383 9562 fx

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org





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