Excellent article from the Sacramento Bee, with one question asking if we should invest in more storage—to save water during our wet years for the inevitable dry ones—a crucial element in a realistic solution to our water problems.
California has a water problem. The water is in the north while the majority of Californians are in the south. Although we have made great strides in conservation, our demand for water is still greater than our supply. These challenges are compounded by the impacts of climate change, which will further strain California’s water infrastructure and supply. Gov. Jerry Brown has delivered innovative, forward-thinking solutions to many of California’s most pressing issues. That is why I believe Gov. Brown can come up with an innovative solution when it comes to water policy.
To date, much of the discussion around statewide water policy is focused on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The negative effects of the current Delta conveyance system on endangered fish species have led to court-ordered reductions in exports to users south of the Delta. These reductions in water supply are what compelled the state to craft the 2009 legislation to achieve the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and environmental protections in the Delta. As a result, Gov. Brown has proposed a $24.7 billion solution known as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which calls for the construction of two 40-foot-wide, 35-mile-long tunnels to draw water from the Sacramento River.
Some proponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan argue that one-third of the state – 10 million people – must sacrifice in order to help the other two-thirds. They have made this issue a zero-sum game, which could greatly impact our own region’s economic stability and agricultural industry. These negative effects on the environment would be devastating. It appears that this proposed solution will create a whole new set of problems.
Before we move forward with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, or any other plan, there are many questions that need to be answered: How can we address the Delta in isolation before creating a comprehensive state water plan that addresses the needs of all Californians? Can we make investments that increase California’s water supply rather than redistributing the existing supply? What assurances are there that existing water rights and supplies will be protected for the decades-long duration of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan?