[env-trinity] Chico Enterprise-Record Editorial: Deck stacked against north on water?
tstokely at att.net
Fri Mar 29 08:56:02 PDT 2013
Editorial: Deck stacked against north on water?
Chico Enterprise-Record Chico Enterprise-Record
Our view: Signs not looking good for north state as water plans progress.
California's water future is being shaped now, and it doesn't look good for those of us up here in the north state. Another three chapters of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan came out Wednesday, and they were nothing more than glowing affirmation for the plan to drill two 35-mile tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
They would be wonderful for delta wildlife, according to the plan authors, who clearly have already decided the tunnels are the way to go. Rest assured that more additions to the plan will come out over the next few months, which will all tout even more benefits of the tunnels, while at the same time trying to downplay their significance.
Maybe tunnels would be a good thing, if there was a plan to come up with the amount of water envisioned flowing through them. They'll be able to move 9,000 cubic-feet per second of Sacramento, Feather and Trinity river water to pumps that move water to the farms and cities farther south.
For the record, on Thursday afternoon, the entire flow of the Sacramento River at Hamilton City was 5,660 cfs; the Feather River flow at Gridley, 1,680 cfs.
If the delta plan had something like Sites Reservoir in it — the proposed lake west of Maxwell that would allow more of the excess flows of winter to be saved for summer when the water's needed — then maybe this would not be so alarming. But there's nothing like that.
And it's looking like that's just a red herring for the north state. The head of Southern California's Metropolitan Water District seemed to let that slip out last week when he spoke in Richvale to the annual meeting of the Western Canal and Richvale irrigation districts. MWD General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger boosted the tunnels and shrugged off storage as an afterthought. Without a reliable way to get the water south, what's the point of adding more storage, he opined. Maybe after the tunnels, we can look at more storage
To us, that seemed backward. Wouldn't you make sure there's enough water before figuring out how to move it?
Well, we're pretty sure Kightlinger and the others of his ilk have already figured that out. There's already plenty of water for the south. It's just that we up here — where the water comes — are using some of it, and sitting on untapped aquifers.
That's alarmingly easy to change. The "Met" serves 19 million of California's 38 million people. There are maybe a million of us in the watersheds that feed the delta. Add in the people in the Bay Area, Central Coast and San Joaquin Valley who also use that water, and there's an overwhelming majority of the populous. That translates to political power, which makes anything possible.
But something that overt might not be necessary. North state irrigation districts — and even Butte County itself — have shown a willingness to sell water to the south. They don't have to take it from us. We'll give it to them if the price is right.
Further, the delta plan sets up a governance system for operating the tunnels that pointedly excludes from the decision-making process anyone from where the water comes from.
This isn't sounding good, is it?
In Richvale last week, Kightlinger said the Met's goal is to "solidify" Southern California's water supply. It's looking more and more like that will "liquefy" our water security.
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