Last week a group of lawmakers, water groups and concerned citizens gathered at Friant Dam to point our the need for more water storage in Central California. They watched as thousands of acre feet of water decended into the San Joaquin River on its way to the Delta and out to sea. Because there is no place to put this excess water, it will never be used for families or farms. What they are hoping for, and what many are hoping for, is the passage of the Water Bond scheduled to be on the California ballot in 2012. After the news conference several newspapers up and down the state editorialized about the need for more storage(Fresno Bee,Sacramento Bee,Visalia Times-Delta,Riverside Press-Enterprise). We would like to be supportive of the Water Bond, but are hopeful it can be modified to correct the flaws of too much pork and not enough guaranteed storage. We see that at least one lawmaker is trying to cut the bond by 25%.
As we watched all this unfold, we also could not help but notice another appointee of newly elected Governor Jerry Brown to the state's Natural Resources Agency. Brown tapped Jerry Meral to be deputy secretary in charge of the Bay-Delta Conservation Planning Program. According to the San Jose Mercury News Meral "led efforts in the 1970's, '80s and '90s against the construction of large dams" in California. It's not very comforting to know that the person in charge of what we need is against what we need. We should also point out that Meral was part of the Brown team in his first term as Governor when we should have been solving these problems, and it's the reason we're still debating the issues.
With all the other problems the new Governor has, it doesn't look to us like he will be supportive of the water bond on next year's ballot. All indications are that Brown would only be supportive of the 'beneficiary pays' principle when considering new infrastructure. If he is to support any new water storage projects, it would only come about if the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan(BDCP) calls for it. But, he's appointed a 'no dam' person to lead that effort. So, with a Governor who doesn't look to be too enthusiastic about the water problem, new leaders in the Natural Resources Agency who don't like dams, and a water bond that probably won't have the governor's support, how do we find the path to a workable solution?
There is nothing sinful about society investing resources in its own infrastructure. Roads, schools, fire protection, the military, and, yes, dams. Everyone except the environmentalist ideologues recognize that there is a dire need for a new dam at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River. The benefits to society in flood control, additional surface water storage, and cold water for fisheries are enormous.
Unfortunately, the fringe environmentalists misuse the 'beneficiary pays' theory to hoodwink political leaders into thinking a new dam is a waste of taxpayer money. Further, with their creative math, they opine that farmers cannot afford to pay the $2,000 per acre/foot cost of the water anyway.
We are obliged to point out the hypocrisy of those opposing a worthwhile new dam as a waste of taxpayer money. Many of those folks are the most adamant supporters of the High Speed Rail boondoggle in which independent studies clearly show that their is no way this 100 billion dollar project can work without immense subsidization by taxpayers.
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Brown Puts Longtime Environmental Advocate In Charge Of State Delta Policy
Jan 21, 2011
Gov. Jerry Brown has named a prominent environmental leader and renowned whitewater kayaker as his top official on Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta water issues.
Brown tapped Jerry Meral to be deputy secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency in charge of the Bay Delta Conservation Planning Program.
Meral, 66 of Inverness, is a registered Democrat who served as deputy director of the state Department of Water Resources during Brown's administration in the early 1980s. After that, he was executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, one of the state's most influential environmental lobbying groups, until 2003.
Meral, a legendary kayaker for whom Meral's Pool is named on the Tuolumne River near Yosemite National Park, led efforts in the 1970s, '80s and '90s against the construction of large dams, helping found Friends of the River and the Tuolumne River Trust. He served on the board of the Sierra Fund and Restore Hetch Hetchy.
The Delta is the most important drinking water source in California, providing water for more than 20 million people and irrigation for millions of acres of farmland. The Delta has been at the center of conflicts in recent years, however, as its fish populations have crashed and cities and farms have struggled to find ways to draw more water, more reliably, from it.