Wednesday, July 22, 2009

But We Must Build

As the California drought pushes water issues front and center, more communities find themselves not only objecting to the methodology of water rate increases and rationing (which are understandably needed when reservoirs are down by an average of 50%), but also the actions and policies of the Metropolitan Water District itself. As farmlands and urban areas go without - due to growth pressures as well - the MWD is continuing its practice of constructing large administrative facilities for its use in sensitive wetlands areas. It's not just the questionable use, but the funding expenditure; an article about the Whittier Narrows project lays it out. The Friends of Whittier Narrows explains the issues with this facility, which is located in a County park.

This, unfortunately, is not atypical of the agency, which is actually a consortium of construction firms which builds and maintains the water infrastructure: Diamond Valley Lake and other reservoirs, California Water Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct. The idea of encroaching on habitat or placing facilites out in the middle of nowhere is not unusual for the MWD, as I've pointed out before. Using LEED as a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" is the latest method of getting structures put up, ostensibly for public education.

It's time to rein in the greenwashing and use the funds to actually preserve natural lands and keep water in the environment instead of creating more paper water for sale to developers. (See the Water Issues sidebar)