Nov 05, 2018
WATER WORKSHOP 77:
In August, Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, issued a memo concerning California Water Infrastructure. It states that while the State of California proposes unacceptable restrictions that further reduce the Department of Interior and United States Bureau of Reclamation’s ability to deliver water to Federal contractors within the Central Valley Project, infrastructure has degraded, communities have been harmed, productive land has stood fallow, and populations of fish-which water delivery limitations were intended to protect, have seen no meaningful improvements.
On October 19th, President Trump issued a Presidential Memorandum promoting a reliable supply and delivery of water in the western United States. It states among other things, “The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Commerce should, to the extent permitted by law, work together to minimize unnecessary regulatory burdens and foster more efficient decision-making so that water projects are better able to meet the demands of their authorized purposes.”
Rewriting of the Biological Opinions will now be managed proficiently and in a timely manner. This is the action we need before we build new dams. This is necessary to build infrastructure that does not dedicate half of its water to the ocean before a single of dam concrete is poured. So many people equate water to the ocean with environmental and ecosystem health. Of course, fish and other species need water, but it is obvious the amount of water sent to the ocean by the State of California, and the previous federal administration, accomplished nothing for fish while destroying communities and industry.
Updating the Biological Opinions will ensure our current infrastructure is used as it was intended and for whom it was intended. People and business will for the first time in a long time, be a priority. New infrastructure will be built with the proper intended and beneficial uses instead of being wasted.
Temperance Flat is a prime example. I believe we are missing a great opportunity with Temperance Flat Dam. The $170 million awarded by the California Water Commission should be returned, along with any attached strings in Prop 1 requiring 50\% of the water off the top be sacrificed to the state. The Federal government has fulfilled obligations to get it built. Authorities, water districts, cities, and agriculture should decide how to pay for it, and build it themselves!
By the way, we would not be discussing this sort of opportunity if it weren’t for the leadership of people like Devin Nunes, David Valadao, Kevin McCarthy, and others. They know the problems we face and have a President who supports agriculture and listens. A nation which cannot feed itself, cannot protect itself. It is absolutely a matter of national security.
Tomorrow is the midterm election. It’s probably the most important of our lifetime. We will either continue to move forward, or face gridlock through obstructionism. Obstructionism has become the main objective for one party and is the motto of their platform. It is anything but progressive, and depending on results, could be devastating for certain areas in California.
On Wednesday, the State Water Resources Control Board will likely move forward with draconian water limitations on tributaries to the Lower San Joaquin River. We have one board member publicly stating the science used is outdated. With lack of “voluntary agreements” from water users, they will vote to move the Bay Delta Plan forward. Next, they will set their sights on the Sacramento River. Surely federal actions, and these actions by the state of California, will end up in court. The SWRCB should not be surprised. It is they themselves who chose to completely ignore the largest statewide coalition of water users requesting they take a different approach.
The next two days will be beyond interesting!
Wayne Western Jr.