Monday, January 3, 2011

The Science of It

The recent Bay Delta draft plan proposal has been roundly criticized by the environmental organizations and the fishing industry as a disastrous violation of the key agreement in State policy that water users should cut their dependence on the Bay-Delta and secure alternative water supply sources. The chart above, from NRDC sources, shows the increasing water withdrawals over the years that is creating the crisis in the water situation for California.

The NRDC took the position a year ago that the "urban water story" that this plan is based upon was not accurately portrayed in a 60 minutes episode in 2009, it's about the ecological collapse brought about by overdrawing water from the Bay Delta for agricultural uses. The construction industry collapse has been responsible for unemployment in the San Joaquin valley, not agricultural losses from drought.

A recent open letter from the fishing industry recommends that this draft plan, advocated by Schwartzenegger, be abolished so that the ecosystems and fisheries can recover from the drastic overdrafting of the water in the Bay Delta ecosystem, threatening collapse of levees and intrusion of salinated water. Its first of seven recommendations is as follows:

Issue an executive order mandating all state agencies to comply immediately with the provisions of the federal biological opinions protecting Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt and other species. To comply with these decisions, the state and federal governments must reduce water exports, better manage water releases from dams, remove dams and provide fish passage for fish above dams.

The conservation groups are appealing to the incoming Brown administration to improve this plan with a rigorous scientific basis for the Bay Delta plan, not a political one driven by agricultural interests and water agencies seeking to increase income at the expense of these natural systems that provide the basis of most of California's wealth of resources. As of today, that element will begin to play out.

Update: On the Governor's new official website up today, Issue No. 7 is "Water for the 21st Century":

Ensuring safe and sufficient water supplies for the 21st century requires significant investments in our water infrastructure and natural ecosystems. After five decades of divisive wrangling, the time has arrived for the governor to provide real leadership and solve our longstanding water problems. The goal must be to maintain and enhance water supplies for all Californians and take action to restore the Bay-Delta and meet California's true water needs.

Sounds like he's on board.