[env-trinity] SF Chron June 15 2009

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Jun 15 10:25:19 PDT 2009

Western governors dip into growing water demand

San Francisco Chronicle-6/15/09

By Mike Stark


It's an old quip in the West: Whiskey's for drinkin' and water's for
fightin'. Only these days, there's more people with a stake in the fight for
water and a dwindling supply.


Quenching the growing demand for water in the warming West will require a
bigger push for conservation, innovative technology and a rethinking of
supply and demand, Western governors and water experts said Sunday.


The three-day Western Governors' Association meeting that began Sunday
focuses on key issues that affect states throughout the West, including
water use, climate change and energy.


This year - with several cabinet members from the Obama administration and a
record attendance - the political landscape has shifted and there's a
renewed urgency for swapping ideas and working together, attendees said.


Sunday's main discussion, which included Canadian officials and experts from
the Middle East and Australia, focused on managing water amid changing
climate conditions.


Although many of the controversies in the West center around urbanization,
natural resources and energy development, water - and often the lack of it -
comes up again and again.


"Water is connected to all those things," said panelist Peter Gleick,
president of the Pacific Institute, an environmental think tank based in
Oakland, Calif.


Gleick said there's evidence of intensified water disputes, ecosystem
collapse in some places and a population growth that's driving a
sometimes-fractured water management system.


States can no longer rely on simply building more storage capacity, which
can be expensive and "politically challenging," he said. The West needs to
consider other supply options such as rainwater, use of treated wastewater
and desalination plants, Gleick said.


Climate change - which will alter precipitation and the timing of mountain
snow melt - also needs to be incorporated into all water management
decisions, he said.


Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said the region needs to do more to protect the
water that's already available.


"Conservation has to become an ethic in the West," he said.


Inevitably, though, there will be hard decisions to make about who gets
water and who doesn't, said Doug Miell, an Australian water consultant and
former leader of an irrigation council during some of the country's worst
drought conditions.


"The bad news is there's no silver bullet," said Miell, who advocated for
more information gathering and sharing among resource managers.


Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, the incoming WGA chairman, agreed that water
needs to be better measured, moved more efficiently and conserved on a
larger scale.


"Those of us who are managing water in the West know how important this is,"
he said.



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

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