Some argue that a new dam here, raising a dam there, is part of the answer to the California water crisis.
The McClintock-Costa bill HR 934 which is expected to pass the House and may win Senate approval as well would remove the “wild and scenic” status from the Merced river to allow expand its large dam on the Merced River. Write Senators Feinstein and Boxer and ask them to vote against this bill.
Why is this an issue? Don’t we need more dams for more water?
The McClintock-Costa bill would do much more than help a water district enlarge its reservoir and ruin a portion of a majestic river. If passed by Congress, it would set a national precedent. The federal government has never before removed a wild and scenic designation on a river. The designation is considered to be one of the nation’s most important and powerful environmental regulations, and protects many California rivers from being further dammed up and diverted.
A great article was released today, Tunnel Vision Part Two that identifies the real risk in HR 934.
HR 934 is backed by the Merced Irrigation District, a water agency representing agricultural interests in the Central Valley that want to expand its large dam on the Merced River, but can’t — unless Congress lifts the wild and scenic status.
The bigger prize, though, is the rivers along the North coast. Wild and scenic — that’s the strongest designation that we have,” said Jon Rosenfield of the Bay Institute. “If we’re willing to remove that for one irrigation district, who’s going to stop us from doing that to another river?” The Eel, the Smith, and the Trinity are now protected by wild and scenic designations. Those rivers contain millions of acre-feet of water that could be diverted.
Currently, Big Agribusiness and powerful water interests in California are not only blocked from accessing North Coast rivers because of their wild and scenic designations, but they’re also stymied by the state’s water conveyance system, particularly the Delta. The fragile estuary serves as a natural barrier to those who want to move more freshwater from Northern California to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California.
That’s where the Delta tunnels come in with their oversized capacity.
“If you build this infrastructure,” said Jeff Miller of the Center for Biological Diversity, referring to the giant water tunnels, “at some point, it’s going to be used to its max.”
Read more: Tunnel Vision Part Two.