End-of-Year News

In the news: Hurdle with L.A. Water District buying Delta Islands; Ground Water Table Collapse; Sites Reservoir; Sites, Temperance Flat, Raising Shasta.


Hurdle with L.A. Water District buying Delta Islands

A controversial plan that would put Southern California’s most powerful water agency in control of a group of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta islands has run into a potentially significant hurdle. Yea! Hopefully it ends up being more of a roadblock, than just a “hurdle.” There’s no good in Metropolitan Water District (L.A.’s water district) owning Delta farm islands. http://digital.olivesoftware.com/olive/odn/sacbee/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=MSB%2F2015%2F12%2F29&entity=Ar00100&sk=3D7081FF

Ground Water Table Collapse

This is why, during the worst four years of drought in California’s history, the profit from almonds continued to rise, year over year. Instead of cutting back on the amount of almond orchards, the farmers have recklessly over-pumped the ground water. U.S. Geological Survey researchers later called the sinking land in the Central Valley, one of the “single largest alterations of the land surface attributed to humankind. (Not to mention, communities in the Central Valley are completely without water due to their wells going dry.)

Sites Reservoir

The SacBee editorial today recommends using Water Bond money for the Sites reservoir, to aid the environment, the Delta, and, by the way, the farmers. I remain skeptical.

First, they say “Proper operation of the reservoir would have downstream benefits for the Delta, waterfowl habitat and for fisheries.” There’s my worry. Until the state proves itself able to operate the system in-place now, I do not agree with adding another reservoir to flow through the Delta to Clifton Court Forebay, further impacting salmon runs. They managed the system horribly during these four years of drought. Let’s first reduce acreage to match available water, then talk about whether more dams make sense. Besides, dams end up reducing water until they are full. Building the Friant Dam is what destroyed the San Joaquin salmon runs. I’d vote to restore the Tulare Lake Basin, a natural lake in the Central Valley which used to recharge the aquifers.

Second, they say the bond would only cover a portion of the cost. While they say farmers and urban users should pay, they also recommend congress and “environmental organizations” pay. Why should congress pay for more water for ag when there is a continued, irresponsible expansion of almond orchards for profit? Also, aren’t all environmental organizations non-profits? It’s also not for urban users – it’s to continue to expand almonds.
I vote for regional self-sufficiency, ground water recharge where it’s needed, in the Central Valley, and better ag water recycling/clean-up.

Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flats, Raising Shasta

Here’s another article about Sites and other dams the Central Valley growers are pushing for, despite multibillion dollar price tags and studies that show the new reservoirs would do little to boost the state’s overall water supplies.
Jay Lund, director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, says: “It makes more sense, Lund said, to modify the operation of existing dams so they capture and release more winter flows for long-term storage in the ground, replenishing the state’s overtaxed aquifers for use in future droughts.”
I agree with him. The main problem with reservoir management during the drought was that way too much was released in the first few years of the drought. We need to replenish the aquifers as the real long-term solution.

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