$11B In More Bonds–Is There A Better Way To Solve Our Water Wars?

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
Water Crisis


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
    irrigated pasture.
  • ·        
    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

    Carolee Krieger, President, founded C-Win
    in 2001. She helped lead the campaign to prevent delivery of State
    Water Project water to Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. On
    behalf of the Citizens Planning Association (CPA), Carolee also led the
    fight against the Monterey Amendments to the State Water Project
    contracts. These amendments attempted to deregulate the State Water
    Project, give away public assets to private special interests for
    profit and make “paper water”, water that doesn’t exist, legal.  C-WIN
    has led the fight to stop speculative development in Southern
    California based on “paper water.”  C-WIN is currently focusing its
    efforts on the fight to save the San Francisco Bay Delta and keep the
    salmon from going extinct.  She brings to C-WIN her passion for
    protecting public trust resources and stopping wasteful use of water in