[env-trinity] Stockton Record 3 11 09

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Thu Mar 12 12:07:29 PDT 2009


California's claims of three-year drought are all wet


By Michael Fitzgerald
Stockton Record Columnist
March 11, 2009 6:00 AM

California's "drought" is overblown. The alarmists calling it a historic
disaster are trying to pull a fast one.
Rain fell constantly through February. The drought broke. Yet at month's
end, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ominously declared a "drought emergency."

Earlier, Lester Snow, head of the state Department of Water Resources,
proclaimed, "We may be at the start of the worst California drought in
modern history."

Not even close. In reality - a word seldom placed in the same sentence as
water in California - rainfall is nearly normal for this time of year.

Don't take my word for it. Here are the current 15-year average watershed
precipitation levels, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation:

> Sacramento River: 77 percent
> American River: 102 percent
> Stanislaus River: 96 percent
> San Joaquin River: 91 percent

That is not a drought. That is below-average rainfall. And not far below
average: 91.5 percent. But it is true Stockton's only at 75 percent.

Officials say the snowpack is critically low. False. The snow-water
equivalent, according to the DWR itself, is 90 percent.

Officials say rainfall has been below average for three years. That is true.
There should be water anyway. More on that later.
Officials say there are more people in California now. Well, yes. The
addition of more people, however, does not constitute a drought, only
perhaps an expansion beyond resources.

Officials say reservoirs are dry. False. Here are the 15-year average
percentages for regional reservoirs.

> Shasta: 69
> Oroville: 68
> Folsom: 108
> New Melones: 74
> Millerton: 88.

The average is 81.4 percent of normal - and rising. The inflow into Lake
Shasta as of midnight Saturday was 13,239 cubic feet per second. Reservoirs
are filling.

They may not fill brimful. But that is far from "the worst California
drought in modern history."

Besides, state officials, SoCal water importers and other Chicken Littles
don't mention they drained Northern California reservoirs prior to
February's storms.

"In the first year of the drought, we passed water like a drunken sailor,"
said Bill Jennings, head of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.

Some perspective: In the 1990s, the state and feds exported 4 million
acre-feet of Delta water annually. In this decade - and well into the
drought - officials imprudently powered up exports to more than 6 million
acre-feet a year.

They irresponsibly sucked reservoirs down. They nearly killed the Delta.
They stopped only when a federal judge called a halt.

"We cannibalized Northern California to sock it away in the Kern water bank
and Diamond Valley water bank down south," Jennings said, "giving no thought
to the question of a second or third year."

This controversy is about more than a peripheral canal. It is about a state
that forgot how water rights work. Or special interests who are attempting
to overthrow them.

Many of these distant users are last in line. Their contracts promise
surplus in wet years. Yet they now feel entitled to water deliveries every
year.

The irony is, the entitlements are bogus. Be they big metropolitan water
agencies or small farmers, they've been had. Or they've been foolish.

The 80-year average for Delta water is 29 million acre-feet annually. The
state and feds wrote contracts promising 130 million acre-feet: 41/2 times
reality.

Other contracts bring total export contracts to an insane 245 million
acre-feet, an ocean of paper water promised to people who gauged their
farms, businesses or urban water consumption accordingly.

This delusion has been abetted by a series of governors from Southern
California, misguided regulators and politicians caving to constituents.

So the "solution" to the ginned-up drought really amounts to an
old-fashioned California water grab based on the failure to face nature's
limits.

The Delta and the law be damned.

"It's an attempt to rewrite 150 years of California water law and legal
precedent," declared Jennings, "by giving the most junior and inferior water
rights equal footing with the most senior water rights. And to do that, its
screws the Delta and Northern California."

 

Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land

415 519 4810 cell

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
(secondary)

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