[env-trinity] Peter Gleick on San Joaquin Valley Irrigators' Flat Out Lies

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Tue Jun 30 09:07:28 PDT 2009


Peter Gleick, President,

Pacific Institute

 <http://www.sfgate.com/rss/feeds/blogs/sfgate/gleick/index_rss2.xml>
http://imgs.sfgate.com/graphics/utils/rss_icon_citybrights2.gif| Read Bio
<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/bios> 


City Brights: Peter <http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/index>
Gleick 


Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar came to California on Sunday to hear
firsthand about California's drought. Unfortunately, some of what he heard
was misleading or false. Certainly farms and farmers...

Truth drought: California's real shortfall


Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Truth
<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/detail?blogid=104&entry_id=42731
>  drought: California's real shortfall


Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar came to California on Sunday to hear
firsthand about California's drought. Unfortunately, some of what he heard
was misleading or false. Certainly farms and farmers are suffering, so are
fish and ecosystems. But so is the truth. Here are three oft-repeated
falsehoods.

Myth 1: Farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley are receiving
"just 10 percent of their allocation this year." 

Myth 2: Water shortages are causing massive new farm unemployment.

Myth 3: Farmers are bearing disproportional impacts of water shortfalls
because of court rulings in favor of fish.

All three of these statements are false, and they've been shown to be false
so many times that continuing to repeat them verges on intentional deception
on the part of those who repeat them to gullible politicians or lazy
reporters.

1. Farmers in the Central Valley get water from many places, and when one
source dries up, another temporarily takes its place. In a remarkable letter
sent by DWR Director Lester Snow to Senator Dianne Feinstein on May 15th,
official data show that the major Central Valley districts will use at least
75% of their average water use by mixing sources, using stored groundwater,
participating in water transfers, and so on. Not 10%. And the biggest moaner
is the Westlands Water District. Yet Snow points out that they will apply at
least 86% of their normal water. On the other hand, the San Joaquin Valley
wildlife refuges will get 75% of its promised water, less than many of the
agricultural districts. Some farmers get less than others in dry years
because of their junior water rights -- and they always have. Are they
arguing to revamp the water rights system? That would be a worthy discussion
to have.

2. The overall job problem is not a water problem -- it is a result of a
global and national economic crisis. Increases in unemployment are worse, by
far, in non-farm industries. In Fresno County, unemployment today is
substantially lower than it was just five and ten years ago (see Figure 1)
and farm employment grew; non-farm employment shrunk. Indeed, the only
sector showing increases in employment in May 2009 (see
http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/frsn.pdf) was the farm sector. In some
of the hardest hit areas, unemployment is much higher -- but it is always
much higher. Unemployment rates in Mendota are above 30% now. But you know
what? Nine years ago, unemployment in Mendota was 30%. Six years ago,
<http://www.fresnobee.com/columnists/mcewen/story/1501334.html>  it was 36%.
The problem in Mendota isn't just the current drought. The Central Valley of
California has been plagued by poverty and lack of access to reliable jobs
and basic services, like clean drinking water, for decades. Turning the
pumps back on will do little, if anything, to address the systemic injustice
that farm worker communities endure in both wet years and dry.

Figure 1. Fresno County civilian unemployment rate from 1990 to 2008, from
the California Employment Development Department, Sacramento, California.
While unemployment has grown in the past two years, it is far below what it
was in the past decade.

California EDD data, <http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/?pageid=166>
2009

Figure 1. Fresno County civilian unemployment rate from 1990 to 2008, from
the California Employment Development Department, Sacramento, California.
While unemployment has grown in the past two years, it is far below what it
was in the past decade.

3. It's not the fish. Two months ago, DWR director Lester Snow testified
before Congress that if there had been no court order to protect fish, CVP
deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley would only be 5% higher
<http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/24/18603781.php> . The problems
farmers are facing aren't due to the tiny portions of water offered up for
ecosystems; they are due to a drought and a dysfunctional water management
system that has been slowly collapsing for decades. 

The longer misleading arguments and facts are put forth to politicians and
the media, the longer it will be before a serious and effective solution can
be found to our water challenges. 

Posted By: Peter
<http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/gleick/author?blogid=104&auth=348>
Gleick (Email
<mailto:citybrights at sfgate.com?subject=City%20Brights:%20Peter%20Gleick> ) |
Jun 30 at 05:25 AM

 

 

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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