[env-trinity] Chronicle: Sen. Feinstein's wrong response to the drought
tstokely at att.net
Wed May 21 09:53:57 PDT 2014
Sen. Feinstein's wrong response to the drought
Published 5:18 pm, Tuesday, May 20, 2014
* WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 14: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during s Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control hearing on Capitol Hill May 14, 2014 in Washington, DC. The hearing's focus was on America's addiction to Heroin and prescription drug abuse. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) Photo: Mark Wilson, Getty Images
The test of any water policy is not if it works in the wet times but if it protects widely shared public values in the dry times.
So it is distressing to see Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., determined to toss out water management policies and protections, worked out over 20 years to balance the water needs of California cities, farms and the environment, in order to serve some interests at the expense of others.
The changes the senator proposes apply 20th century water management thinking that hasn't worked instead of incorporating 21st century technologies we know to work - conservation, improved water-use efficiency, water recycling, storm water recapture and more comprehensive groundwater monitoring and pumping restrictions.
Her legislation will not make it rain; it will not restore the snowpack; it will not save crops.
State and federal officials already administratively relaxed most of the restrictions on delta water exports to farms and cities, responding in part to the governor's drought emergency declaration.
What S2198 would do, however, is override Endangered Species Act protections by taking more water from the delta at the time when the baby salmon are moving through.
Yes, as the senator asserts, the drought is severe and the Sierra snowpack on which California depends for water supply was frighteningly sparse. Yes, the Central Valley farms and the communities that surround them are suffering. And yes, we recognize the value of California agricultural economy to the state, the nation and the world.
However, the senator's bill would open a legal loophole to increase delta pumping beyond what is authorized by the court-approved biological opinions that protect California's embattled native salmon and steelhead.
The environmental community and fishing groups tried unsuccessfully for months to work with the senator to craft language that addresses water diversions from the San Joaquin River and the delta but the final version falls short.
Feinstein needs to revise S2198 to encourage more efficient water use, including technologies that have added 2 million acre-feet of new water a year for the last decade, rather than promoting legal strategies to take water in times of scarcity from one interest for another.
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