Sunday, September 13, 2009

Water Reform in the Bay Delta

The image above (click to enter the site) of this entire critical watershed is from Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, and identifies the scope of the problem identification as well as the land-limited response by the State and the legislature in terms of its necessary scope and integration with all facets of this system. It has resources for public education on the habitat issues as well as interactive maps. The issue encompasses the entire balance of natural systems, from farming ecology to fisheries, and has been disrupted by Bush administration policies that steered water from rivers and streams to drought- starved farms in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

The legislature has recently come close to a resolution of this critical issue in the Bay Delta, but politics struck again and water management and environmental reform went by the wayside. Schwarzenegger's failed leadership as Governer is highlighted by his demands that dam construction be included in the much-hoped-for water bill or it will face his veto, despite the fact that these old-style plumbing solutions will only exacerbate the problem.

The Chair of the Metropolitan Water District, Tim Brick, published his article today in the Star-News, pointing out that a Bay Delta Conservation Plan is the necessary central focus of the latest effort to restore and repair this estuary that supplies water to Southern California and is home to a vast ecology of wildlife and fish. An accompanying article in the paper also outlines the "back room dealing" that goes along with the current bill, given the profits traditionally made from large-scale construction approaches by a strictly limited group of firms. There have been serious deficiencies in the proposed water bill for over a year now, since it relies on outdated and expensive technologies, per Conner Everts. Conner is the Executive Director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance and Co-Chair of the Desal Response Group, working on the environmental response to ocean water drinking water plants. He is on 8 boards including being chair of POWER, Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform and senior advisor to the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water.

The Aquafornia organization has also taken a lead on the approach that working in tandem with natural processes to supply water and restore wetlands is the most feasible way to go, rather than building very expensive infrastructure which will consume tremendous amounts of power to operate.

The bigger picture: as the entire western United States dries out, like other countries around the globe, it will heavily impact our ability to sustain any kind of lifestyle at all as we know it, regardless of our approaches to this problem of water resources and overdevelopment. It's happened before.