Our Klamath Basin
Upholding rural Americans' rights to grow food,
own property, and caretake our wildlife and natural resources.
Capital Press Editorial
Legislature is failing to address the single most important
issue in California today and the issue that will dominate the
state for decades to come - water.
Thus far politics, not leadership, has prevented action on a
proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the state to issue
bonds in a wide-reaching water plan.
The governor's proposal would provide additional water
storage, aid the endangered Sacramento-San Joaquin River
Delta, help conservation efforts and improve the state's
Critics, and political opponents, call for improving
conservation and efficiency rather than building more storage.
Those critics obviously are ignoring the fact that the
governor's proposal also calls for conservation.
Those opposing additional storage and water conveyance in the
state are clueless to the reality that telling people to turn
off the water when they brush their teeth will not solve
California's worsening water crisis. They also don't
understand the complexity of water in the state.
The embattled Salton Sea in the desert spanning parts of
Riverside and Imperial counties illustrates why mere
conservation and conventional wisdom don't always apply to
The Salton Sea provides critical wildlife habitat for birds
and fish.It is shrinking largely because as agricultural
irrigation in the region becomes more efficient, it is cutting
off the supply of runoff water that feeds the sea and keeps it
from getting smaller and saltier. This kills the very wildlife
the sea now sustains.
The same thing can, and will, happen elsewhere in California.
As more canals and aquifers are lined and agriculture
irrigation gets closer and closer to only using as much water
as is needed to grow crops, that will send less water to
replenish underground aquifers.
"Right now our water system is extremely vulnerable,"
"For one thing, we haven't built a major state reservoir in
more than 30 years and in that time our population has grown
from 20 million to 37 million. We must solve California's
water problems not only for today, but for 40 years from now."
To put that 17 million additional residents into perspective,
that's as many new California residents in the last 30 years
as live in the neighboring states of Nevada, Utah, Oregon,
Washington and Idaho - combined.
If slaking the thirst of an additional five states' worth of
residents on the infrastructure from 30 years ago doesn't
adequately demonstrate that substantial conservation and
efficiency have already been achieved, then nothing will.
California is growing and will continue to grow, whether
people at the Capitol in Sacramento want it, or residents in
the big cities or small towns want it.
It is foolish not to take the steps to provide for the needs
of the growing population and the state's $32 billion ag
economy, which helps feed them and many others around the
country and the globe.
The Legislature needs to quit stalling on the water package
and approve it and get it before voters.
And before the people vote, legislators need to get out and
spread the message that this isn't just about their neighbor
who may water part of the street when he waters the lawn, but
it's about providing for the state's future.
Water and its use in California is complicated, but it doesn't
take a hydrologist to understand that the arid state, which
has always struggled with water supply, needs to hold on to
more of the precipitation that falls on the vast state.
Drilling more and deeper wells into the state's shrinking
groundwater supply isn't a sustainable plan.
Legislators poking their heads into the ground and ignoring
the problem won't fix anything either.
Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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