25 Jun 2009

Lousy Water Editorials

A recent Merced editorial discussed water problems in the state, and although I criticize this one specifically, there are countless others that are lousy in similar ways. A few passages need to be repeated:
"They (the legislators) are the ones who have been standing in the way of getting anything done. That dirty little secret is finally getting out to California residents, and many are becoming angry."
Of course they are standing in the way of certain projects—we put them there to oppose and support bills, so the claim is obvious. It is neither dirty nor little nor a secret.

The writer says both sides must sit down and compromise (a new idea?),
"...but it also will take the cooperation of the federal government. The feds must help pay for new water projects..."
Bullshit. If legislators agree on more storage, then Californians ought to pay for it with higher water prices. If these higher prices choke off demand, then we shouldn't be building.
"Water politics are complicated, but a solution can be found because everyone knows the issues, and what's at stake."
I disagree that there is a solution. In the few years I have been studying California water, I have learned that our state has argued about water projects, water rights, the delta, environmental flows, etc. for more than a hundred years. The worst thing is to act quickly and irrationally.
"California's population has doubled since the last major water project was built in the state, and demand for water has gone up by an even greater factor."
Total water demand was about 30 million acre feet in 1960, now it’s about 44 million acre feet, according to the Pacific Institute. (page 9 of the pdf) That is not a doubling. Furthermore, lots of storage has been built since the last “major project.” See Gleick's blog.

They conclude
"The time couldn't be better for a comprehensive water plan. Let's step back from the finger-pointing and get this resolved for all Californians."
Not even sure what that means. Do you mean build a new delta facility? There still will be water supply concerns, water quality concerns, water rights problems, environmental flow issues, etc. This water problem, which is less of a problem and more of a situation to be continually managed, will not go away by throwing money at it. In fact, doing so is incredibly wasteful.

Bottom Line:
This simplistic reporting does not educate anyone.


  1. ...but this reporting DOES serve a constituency that wants a Peripheral Canal :)

  2. WaterSource/WaterBank25 Jun 2009, 16:30:00


    What exactly do you want reported ?

    Your idea that water should cost more is definitely happening ... water districts and suppliers are raising their prices as their supplies lessen.

    To my knowledge, no water districts/agencies/suppliers are requesting more water.

    Environmental groups are also not requesting more water, only complaining that their favorite estuary is suffering.

    There is more water, but without a valid request, an appropriation cannot be made for more water.

    There has also been no request for more water for the continued generation of RENEWABLE ENERGY in facilities that are already built, paid for and only partially functioning.

    The real story for Editors is that the PLAN is not for more water, but for higher prices for water....

    Higher water prices won't solve the problems of catastrophic occurances, but there again no entity has ever requested more water for such emergency contingencies.

    Careful what you wish for ... it can come with irreversible circumstances...

    WaterSource/WaterBank waterrdw@yahoo.com

  3. "Feds must help pay." As one of those taxpayers, I say no thank you. I would rather bail out wall street or Detroit (which I do NOT like) than California agribusiness.

  4. WS/WB, do no multiple groups in the Central valley want more water from the Delta? If not, we gotta tell Fox News.

  5. WaterSource/WaterBank25 Jun 2009, 18:28:00


    Some in the Central Valley may be making noise about wanting more water from the Delta ... but only from the Delta ! There are numerous ways to get & store them more water, but it is not more water they evidently want ... it is only DELTA WATER that is of interest to them.

    Thousands marched in the street ... strange, ... none ever inquired about more water....


  6. If we include environmental demands, I think the Pacific Institute report understates the increased demand for water over the past few decades. However, our state's water problem is not so much one of delivering greater quantities, but of timing, conveyance, and safety. Certainly we need more market incentives to conserve and to trade between users, but it is foolish to pretend we do not need some engineering and earth moving as well. The demand curve is out of synch with the supply curve, the same way the population lives in the less watered parts of the state. There are good, natural reasons for these disjunctions: crops grow in the summer, people live and work near ports. Yet it snows and rains in the winter, and the wettest parts of our state are remote and mountainous.

  7. WaterSource/WaterBank25 Jun 2009, 20:22:00

    Mister Kurtz

    "Ca's state's water problem is ... timing, conveyance, and safety"...

    Now you're talking !

    Why couldn't an annual NEW NON-TRIBUTARY supply of fresh water be safely stored in Lake Mead ( 28.5 million acre feet; now 50% empty) and released as needed ?

    Does that answer your criteria ?



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