[env-trinity] San Jose Mercury News Editorial 7 26 10
bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Jul 26 11:54:40 PDT 2010
California must preserve Delta's health
San Jose Mercury News-7/26/10
The first, second and third priority for the future of the Sacramento-San
Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast, is preserving
its health. Everything else, including the needs of the powerful agriculture
industry and municipal water agencies, should move further back in line.
The massive water deal passed by the Legislature in 2009 called on the state
to conduct an independent, comprehensive study to determine how to achieve a
sustainable, healthy delta. A draft released last week stated
uncategorically that water users are taking twice as much water as they
should. That must stop, the report said, or the sickly delta will eventually
become unable to provide safe, clean water for fish, farmers and city
The conclusion does not surprise objective students of water policy. There
have to be unhealthy consequences of diverting more than 50 percent of the
water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers before it circulates
through the delta.
But thirsty Central Valley ag interests are howling. Fresno Democratic Rep.
Jim Costa told reporters last week that -... this kind of misinformation
serves as fodder for extreme environmentalists and critics of our Valley who
aim to cut off our water. "... We are winning this fight, and I will not let
this one-sided document limit our progress."
There's a reason Costa and farmers want to preserve the status quo: They
stand to make out like bandits under the current terms of the water deal.
The agreement demands that urban water users reduce their consumption by 20
percent. How much does it ask of the agriculture industry, which grabs 80
percent of the water used by California? Zero.
The state wouldn't need any additional storage, period, if farmers conserved
just 10 percent of the water they now use. But they continue to spray untold
gallons through wasteful irrigation sprinklers on sizzling summer days
rather than invest in more efficient drip systems.
The water deal calls on all California taxpayers to pay for building more
reservoirs and the like through a bond measure. Instead, the users of the
additional storage facilities, primarily agriculture, should pay more of the
cost to build them, even if it means passing the cost on to customers. We
should understand the real cost of our food. But higher costs for water will
also make conservation more attractive.
There's room for compromise here. All Californians share a common interest
in a healthy ag industry, a huge part of our economy, as well as a healthy
delta. The state should be offering incentives for growers to conserve
water, which has to be the long-range goal.
California has an obligation to future generations to preserve a healthy
water supply. That can't happen if the state continues to overpromise what
the delta can deliver and remain healthy.
The delta provides more than half of Silicon Valley's drinking water. It's
crucial to the region's economic health. The state has to find a way to keep
the estuary healthy, or it will ultimately fail to meet our water needs.
Byron Leydecker, JcT
Chair, Friends of Trinity River
PO Box 2327
Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327
415 383 4810 land/fax
415 519 4810 mobile
<mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net
<mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org
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