5 Nov 2009

Misplaced Optimism on Water Bill

In my post yesterday (and on the radio!), I said that the new bill would have groundwater monitoring and penalties for excessive diversions. That was wrong. The bill that was passed has toothless versions of those regulations.

Instead of being pleased with this result, I am infuriated. What a crock of shit.

Bottom Line: California maintains its last place position with the worst water management in the country. (Yes, worse than Texas.) Pathetic.
Addendum: It gets worse. Here (via DW) are more details on the earmarks and PORK ("Projects of Regional Koncern," via JC) that included a $1 billion sop to LA that was awarded in exchange for gutting penalties on illegal diversions. More shit in the crock.


  1. As is typical of politicians, they made passage of what are in fact 5 bills about themselves and not about water or infrastructure.

    Eventually, as the vote neared, the argument was made that this package was Too Big To Fail. The drinking water of 25m depended on it passing, etc etc. Perhaps. It is certainly too big to comprehend right away, at least for me, hence my own scant posting about it.

    Since the vote, I have only had time to muddle through the backslapathon at Aquafornia of the legislators congratulating one another on the historical nature of their achievement, 24 hours after the vote. While the silliness of it is addictive, the next step must be to thoroughly read all the bills. I started last night and succumbed quickly to a headache.

    When and if someone who actually read and understands them can account for what's in the bills, then lay that out without rank hyperbole and political chatter, then discussion needs to begin about what kind of job the legislature did.

    Meanwhile, I agree with you about California's groundwater policy. I am equally worried about the proposed dams. $3bn for what exactly?

    Question: If something's too big to fail, does that also mean it will succeed if you throw $11.1bn at it?

  2. I was surprised at your optimism yesterday. Welcome back!

  3. I take some offense at the worse than Texas remark. How about worse than Arizona?

  4. @Jim -- Although AZ still has problems with its AMAs, at least they do not suffer the same rule of capture problems of TX. It's a tough race to the bottom :)

  5. @Emily -- the $3bil is supposed to cover the "public benefit" portion of the dams. Total costs wil be MUCH more, and I doubt that aggies will pay them. Look for $3bil to either inflate or for the dams to go nowhere (no bad thing...)

  6. David-

    Keep up the good fight. The last portion of your lecture today got me interested in this issue and politics in general. Your disgust came through loud and clear in your lecture. I've lived in CA my entire life and had no clue ag was such a small % of GDP. That's a huge bit of information, and it changes everything.

  7. Sierra Club water analyst Jim Metropulos has said provisions like effective ground water monitoring were gutted and the committee to coordinate policy around the Delta was unfunded, powerless and appointed by a lame-duck governor with no accountability.

    Lawsuits which have focused on environmental use of water would turn to interpretation of the new laws, he said.

    "This is a Band-Aid. What the Delta needs is a heart transplant," he said, adding that conservation goals were riddled with loopholes.

    From a Reuters article.

  8. And what will the Club *do* about it? Lobby harder next year! :(

  9. Across the state, taxpayers will pay an additional $20 billion + (when you include the interest payments the state will have to make on the bonds).

    Then as water ratepayers SoCal customers will end up paying another $12-15 billion to cover the projected costs of the new peripheral canal. The manager of the Otay Water District says that would double existing water rates in his district...

    So the estimated tab for this bond and the canal it enables will end up somewhere north of $35 billion, not counting years of litigation which will probably double that estimate.

    This proposal is poison for northern Californians. Otherwise MWD and Westlands wouldn't be so happy with it. The Governor will stack the new Delta board with appointees who won't buck MWD or Westlands, and will approve the new canal, even if the enviros figure out what's going on and fight it. Then the lawsuits will begin to fly.


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