Here at Speak Out California, we’re trying to bring some clarity and varying perspectives to the water wars that have been the hallmark of California politics since statehood. With the fight for precious water resources dividing the state along geographic as well as ideological lines, it is important that we bring you all sides of the debate….just in case anyone wants to really try to solve the problem for the betterment of the state. While accusations are flying fast and furiously from north to south and east to west (and all places in-between)we hope the truth will emerge from healthy dialogue such as we hope to bring you here at Speak Out California.
The following post is the second in a series from Carolee Krieger whose organization, C-WIN, has been a leading resource in fighting to make sure we have enough water to keep our state going. Here are her comments. We welcome yours as well–especially from opposing points of view. — HBJ
California and Its
California is not running out of water; our water is just being badly mismanaged for the profit and greed a few people. There are a few facts that we all need to be
aware of when thinking about this complex question:
80% of the developed surface water in California
is used by agriculture; 40% of that water is used to grow cotton, alfalfa and
Only 11% of all the developed surface water is
used by all the people, lawns, swimming pools and showers.
The cost to agriculture for much of its water is
subsidized by the taxpayers.
Many of the crops grown, like cotton, are
subsidized by the taxpayers. In some
years, the farmers are paid not to grow it.
1.3 million acres out of a total of 9 million
acres of farm land in California is poisoned with salt, selenium, arsenic, and
other toxic metals. Taking this
land out of production would free up
almost 4 million acre feet of wet water.
The California State Water Resources Control
Board, the agency with the fiduciary responsibility to grant and revoke all
water rights permits in California, including the State Water Project and the
federal Central Valley Project, has publically stated in their July 2008
Strategic WorkPlan, that they have issued 8 1/2 times more water rights permits
that actual water exists in the Delta watershed. So every drop of water has been promised 8
1/2 times over.
The solutions are simple to understand and make a lot of
common sense. But because of greed and
entrenched power, these solutions are very difficult to achieve politically.
Retirement from agricultural production of all
1.3 million acres of poisoned farmlands in the federal Central Valley Project
and the State Water Project. Redirect
some of the current subsidies to encourage production of something California
really needs; clean solar energy. All of
these lands are in semi desert; this could be a win/win solution.
Remove the “paper water”, the water
that isn’t real, from all State Water Project and Central Valley Project
contracts and abide by long established law protecting the area or origin and
senior water rights holders. The State
Water Resources Control Board could and should do this.
Enforce the Clean Water Acts and other water
laws. A good place to start would be to
give the State Water Resources Control Board protection from political
influence and adequate funding to do its job.
Uphold the Public Trust Doctrine. Our public resources, especially water, must
be managed for the good of all; the people and the environment.
We must stop allowing subsidized crops to be grown with subsidized
water on poisoned lands.
We must stop allowing the system to be gamed by people and big corporations for personal profit. Once such abuser gained over $200 million by selling “paper water” that
he had “banked” in an underground aquifer to the federal Environmental
Water Account. This speculator got his $200
million; the fish, however, never got their water; it was only “paper