[env-trinity] Chico Enterprise Record- Pointed views on water transfers aired
tstokely at att.net
Thu Jan 22 08:50:12 PST 2009
Pointed views on water transfers aired
By HEATHER HACKING - Staff Writer
Posted: 01/22/2009 12:00:00 AM PST
CHICO - Speakers at a recent Chico meeting sponsored by the Butte-Sutter Basin Area Groundwater Users said the north state should pay attention to ensure that water is not "stolen" for use in other parts of the state.
A guest at the meeting was Tom Stokely, of the California Water Impact Network. Stokely previously worked for the Trinity County Planning Department for 23 years, "mostly to restore water taken from us," he said.
Stokely shared his views of water projects in Trinity County in the 1960s that he said resulted in water "stolen" from that waterway for use by San Joaquin Valley farmers in the Westlands Water District.
"I think they're looking in your direction," Stokely said of the Sacramento Valley.
He predicted water managers would "break every promise as they did with us" in the Trinity River watershed.
Westlands is an example of what not to do, Stokely said. The 600,000 acres of farmland west of Fresno is an old ocean bed that receives less than 10 inches a year of rain, he said.
The region has problems with salinity, which requires more water to leach out salts. Also, the land has subsided 20-30 feet in areas, he said.
Northern California currently has sustainable agriculture, Stokely said, so it doesn't make sense to export water from here to other areas.
"I strongly encourage you folks to stand up for your groundwater," Stokely said.
He referred people to an e-book at the Friends of the River Web site, www.fotr.org, titled "How the Trinity Lost its Water."
The discussion comes as the state Department of Water Resources is exploring "conjunctive water use," which is management of water that combines surface water and groundwater sources.
Attorney Michael Jackson, who has been involved with numerous environmental lawsuits and works closely with the Butte Environmental Council, reinforced the views expressed by Stokely.
"There are very seldom situations where conjunctive use is good for the place that is the source of water," Jackson said.
"You may find you have more allies in urban areas than you do here," Jackson said.
Locally, he pointed to the Butte Environmental Council as a player in the water issues. BEC has filed lawsuits in the past, and will in the future, to challenge water projects on the basis of the environment and environmental review.
As for Sacramento Valley districts interested in selling surface water and pumping groundwater, Jackson said "if they have (surface) water they don't need, it should be taken from them."
He said that people who don't have access to surface water but rely only on groundwater, don't have the ability to "double dip."
A few people in the audience recommended people see the documentary "Flow" - www.flowtheflim.com - about the world water crisis.
In Butte County, voters passed a law that requires the county to approve any transfer of groundwater out of the county as well as transfer of surface water and subsequent use of surface water.
For upcoming 2009 Drought Water Bank transfers, there is not enough time for any agency in Butte County thinking of using groundwater to get through the necessary government approval, county leaders have said.
Speaker Bob Hennigan noted that only applies to Butte County, and other counties share and can tap into underground water sources.
Staff writer Heather Hacking can be reached at 896-7758 or hhacking at chicoer.com.
Water Policy Coordinator
California Water Impact Network
504A Lennon St. (USPS and UPS)
Mt Shasta, CA 96067
tstokely at att.net
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