18 Mar 2010

Speed blogging -- drought edition

  • California looks to Australia for lessons on water management... California politicians were "shocked" that the feds may take over "their" water -- as was the case in Australia. Keep mismanaging it, and that will be true.

  • USDA is providing $10 million to farmers affected by California's water shortages... I'd call that subsidizing unsustainable ag. How about fewer farmers for less water?

  • Farmers say that they cannot afford to pay for Temperance Flat... They want urban taxpayers to subsidize them. (and Jim Costa is onboard with that!)
hattip to JF


  1. Regarding Temperance Flat, your cryptic post appears to accept uncritically the Times' article's characterization of the potential project as an "agribusiness" project. That, in turn, is a smokescreen thrown up by enviros, who desperately need to fight off the obvious conclusion that has been reached by many responsible commentators (see, e.g., Isenberg's Delta Vision conclusions) that low-impact new surface storage is probably a necessary component of the train wreck California finds itself in over water supplies.

    Fact is, ag doesn't need new water in California. It just needs to hold onto what it has got, in reliable terms. Ag water demand has been flat for the last 40 years; the principle feature of the demand crunch we are now in is the urbanization of the landscape, and the commitment to more instream flows via implementation of environmental laws. So, really, what Temperance (and Sites, and Los Vaqueros' expansion) is servicing is the new demand features of the 21st century water arena.

    Why does ag support it? Purely defensively. Because ag knows that it will be cannibalized if it can't expand the pie to accommodate everybody else.

  2. Mr. Flounder, you again have it backwards.

    Most of the ag. water issues that they think they will solve with projects like Temperance Flat are due to drought because:
    A) California law makes urban water a higher use priority than ag. water;
    B) the ag. regions with the biggest water problems have secondary water rights and no historic flows (that is, flows over their own lands). Hence the desire to keep engineering "new" water to them.

    Westlands just has to face the fact that it over-promised to its farmers, and it needs to start paying the piper by helping them farm solar instead.

    What cities have a water shortage problem that Temperance Flat would fix? From what I've seen, Fresno hasn't cut back on its 190 gallons/person/day average.

  3. Hmmm. Apparently you get more out of Water Code 106 than I do. Or the courts have.

    Regarding engineering new water to Westlands, I think they'd be happy with what was originally engineered for them: the CVP. That no longer delivers for them, however - and you are curiously uncognizant of the link the ESA plays in this situation.

    You'd call it "new" water for ag. Some of us call it "new" water for the environment, because Westlands is now short because of environmental flow requirements that have displaced a large chunk of their contractual promise. Maybe the best that can be said is that either way it's a matter of semantics, but the environment is not off the hook in terms of causing the need for new storage. If you think it is, then you misapprehend in what order rights were vested in this state.

    Westlands has not "overpromised" to its farmers. The people of the United States did, through the Congress, and the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Central Valley Project.

    I don't know much about the City of Fresno's water supply, or water demand. But Temperance Flat is a project in a system, which as you know transmits supply ripples pretty readily. Among other things, Temperance water would more or less directly contribute to restoring the San Joaquin and provide water management flexibility that relieves the pressure on the Delta. Is that ag?

    But wait, I already know your answer.


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