That's what the pundits and politicians from the Central Valley are claiming. The trouble is that they are claiming the Fish and Game are responsible for the water "shortage" that is having big harsh impacts on south of Delta agriculture.
In this video, Representative Nunes asks for the pumps to be turned on, to prevent the water from being wasted going under the Golden Gate, so that the water is used for fish, not families. (Yes, he does show photos of children, and yes, he does enter smelt onto the record -- "we don't want them.")
He doesn't ask for "money" -- just for the pumps to be turned on, to allow "historic" Delta exports to continue. "We're finished," he says.
I don't know about that.
First, water DOES have a cost, even if it's not a dollar cost. It's an opportunity cost.
Second, the only reason we have a "shortage" is because water is not priced or traded like another precious commodity subject to political, environmental and natural whims. Ever notice how the only time we have OIL SHORTAGES is when the government gets involved? (Photo from 1979, when Maryland implemented rationing.)
Right. So we have less water due to drought (Nature) and environmental "needs" (law and politics). We have "more" demand for water because most people in SoCal grow lawns (absorbing 50-70% of residential demand) and farmers assumed that their subsidized water would flow forever (so farmers planted orchards).
The result is shortage, and turning on the pumps at the Delta will NOT fix the "supply-demand imbalance" (the euphemism for WRONG PRICING in use at IID). What it will do is give temporarily relief to farmers who are unwilling to accept that business as usual is over.
The fact that they continue to overdraft their aquifers at record rates signals their belief that their political leaders are going to turn on the pumps (crazy-impossible), that they expect divine intervention (hmmm...), or that they want to bring forward their day of reckoning (hmmm...). Tough choices.
Sorry -- it's over.
Bottom Line: The days of abundance (free water!) are over. Now let's use prices and markets to minimize the harm as we adjust to reality.
hattips to CM and JF for sending many examples of political grandstanding. I couldn't get them all in!