GOP-Playing Politics With California’s Drought
Same old BS
In their imagined “people versus fish” scenario, towns are going dry and growers are going out of business because crazy environmentalists are hogging water to protect an obscure fish, the delta smelt. Water that could irrigate fields and keep people working is instead being kept in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and flushed into the ocean.
What they don’t like to point out is that without that supposed flush pushing out into the Pacific, seawater would continue to intrude farther into the delta, leaving only useless salty brine to pump into canals and onto fields — and then where would the growers and the rest of us be? Without restoring the dry stretch of the San Joaquin River, there can be no recharging of Central Valley towns’ groundwater supplies and no hope that the river will rescue orchards and cities with southern Sierra snowmelt in the event global climate change forever reduces levels of snowfall in the mountains to the north. And as for the smelt, the Endangered Species Act protects not only that fish but all of us, by holding together the fragile environmental web we rely on.
Agriculture is an essential California industry, with benefits that are felt far beyond the region where crops grow. California’s economy depends on it. But three out of every four raindrops, three out of every four snowflakes, that fall on California and are diverted for human use go to agriculture. It is part of a network of water users that must conserve more and do a better job of planning for the future.
California has a plan — the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan — that has brought together representatives of the competing interests who recognize that they must work together to sustain one another with limited supplies of water. The Republican bill would undermine that effort by demonstrating that any agreement can be broken at any time by legislation. The state’s water users — all of us — need laws that support, not subvert, efforts to balance our water use.