Tag Archive | "water wars"


Gasbags over Sacramento. CA politicians talk about water, do little


California legislators have had multiple opportunities to create genuine plans for water to help all residents and plan for the future. Instead they have indulged in tedious political infighting. Worse, Sacramento legislators have twice attempted to foist water bonds on the public that were so pork-filled and corrupt that the stench drove everyone including themselves from the room. That’s the kind of “leadership” Californians have now in Sacramento. Cowardly, venal legislators beholden to special interests do everything except serve the public. That’s why, for several decades now, California has done little to prepare for the obvious eventuality of severe, lasting drought.

The tendency of politicians, however, has been to take symbolic steps so that they can’t be accused of ignoring water, but not face it squarely. Brown’s recently published Water Action Plan is more a wish list of outcomes than a specific blueprint.

It’s been a case study of how multiple “stakeholders” on any major issue cancel each other out and freeze an unsatisfactory status quo – in the case of water, leaving the state vulnerable when another drought strikes.

While our politicians can do little to alleviate the current drought, they can damn – or dam – well prepare for the next one. And if they don’t, they’re not fit to hold office.

Posted in Water


Water vigilantes? Farmers pay $150 million for water, Feds may seize it


If the feds do this, there will be vigilantes. Farmers who wisely stockpiled water in the San Joaquin Valley may have the water seized by the feds for farmers with senior rights. This is deranged and shows how the convoluted, grossly unfair, arcane system of water rights needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with something sane.

West Valley farmers spent $150 million last year buying some water and storing it in San Luis Reservoir. They were planning ahead for a zero water allocation from the federal Central Valley Project this year.

They face losing the water…The drought may influence the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to seize the water and send it to other west-side farmers who have more senior rights.

A zero water allocation year mean no water at all for Central Valley farmers from the Sacramento Delta and the feds in 2014. Thus, if they don’t have wells and there’s no rain, they’re screwed. Their cattle will go hungry and crops will die. Thus, maybe they decide to go to the reservoir where the water they paid for is stored and stand there with rifles to insure it’s not diverted.. Don’t think this can’t happen…

Posted in Water

California Central Valley water cuts will lead to food lines

California Aqueduct

California Aqueduct

When there’s not enough water to supply everyone, water cutbacks to farms mean unemployment in agricultural areas of California. Central Valley allotments from the Sacramento Delta to the Central Valley were cut to 20%. This does not meant a 20% cut to 80% of allotment. They are receiving 20% of their total allotment, an 80% cut, this for one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country. These Central Valley water cuts will devastate already wobbly local economies.

With severe irrigation water cutbacks this year, food lines again will form with unemployed workers and their families on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side, local leaders said Monday.

Part of the problem is the snow pack is about half what it should be, made worse for Central Valley farmers by federal regulations mandating water be used to protect fish in the Delta, particularly salmon.

There are no easy answers here. There aren’t even difficult answers. Water cuts this severe will mean unemployment will soar and quite possibly that food prices will rise in response because less food is produced.  California Gov. Brown wants to build two huge tunnels to shunt water around the Delta and to the Central Valley and Los Angeles. As you might expect, commerce and residents in the Delta, which also has highly productive farmland as well as fishing, are dead set opposed to this. No one has a clue where the tens of billions to fund the tunnels will come from, especially since voters are leery of funding big projects. The last two attempts at a water bond on the ballot were pulled because the water bond had enough pork in it to fill a Midwest meat packing plant.

One possible solution is desalination. Siemens says they can do it using half the power previously needed. Even with that, a string of desal plants on the California coast would require huge amounts of electricity not readily available.

Calif Central Valley water war sign

Calif Central Valley water war sign

Sacramento Delta

Sacramento Delta

Posted in Water

Jerry Brown about to ignite mother of all California water wars

The Sacramento Delta is ground zero for California water wars. California Gov. Jerry Brown will soon announce plans to build massive tunnels to siphon water away from the Delta and to Central Valley cropland and the ever-thirsty Southland.

The tunnels would siphon water using three intakes on the Sacramento River below Freeport, carry it some 60 miles underground to pumping facilities near Tracy, and then use existing canals to move it to farms in the Central Valley and cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego.

California says they’ll have the deepest concern for the health of the Delta and its fish population, including salmon, and will study and ponder this deeply as they build the canal.

Precisely how much water is diverted will depend on what is determined by the scientific studies that will accompany construction, she said.

This approach does not fill me with great hope that the state cares much about the Delta. Environmentalists, commercial fishermen, and Delta farmers say the effect on fish and the environment needs to be determined before the construction starts. I agree.

[Delta farmers] now irrigate with water that is cleansed as it flows through the delta. If the tunnel project moves ahead, they will use water that has more salts and toxins that could kill or damage crops.

The poject, if it happens, will be mostly funded by a $11 billion oft-delayed water bond scheduled to be on the ballot on 2014. Given the vagueness of the current plans it’s a cetainty the project will cost way more than that.

Gentlemen, start your lawsuits.

Posted in Water

San Diego vs. MWD in California mega-water war

San Diego has launched heat-seeking missles at the 800 lb. gorilla of California water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, claiming it is conspiring to charge San Diego more for water than everyone else.

The anomosity here is far more pronounced that in previous water wars. San Diego has a website with hundreds of pages of documents showing what they claim is deliberate bias against them by MWD.

Posted in Water

Nuclear power proposal in Utah ignites water war

A humongous 3 GW nuclear plant is planned near Green River, Utah. It would use 53,000 acre feet a year of water for cooling. This would put further strain on the Green River, which is a major tributary of the already overused Colorado River.

The developers say it will use 1% of Utah’s water and increase its electricity production by 50%, assuming there will always be enough water which is by no means a given.

Other 200 groups have filed protests, most of which are concerned about water use.

Posted in News

Water wars spotlight. Nevada didn’t grab enough

Lake Mead bathtub ring 2010. (Credit: commons.wikimedia.org)

Southern Nevada gets almost 90% of its water from the Colorado River. Southern California also gets substantial water from the Colorado, which has the unenviable status of being the most litigated river in the world. The problem for Nevada is that it agreed to a small apportionment of Colorado River water back when their population was tiny. Southern Nevada gets 0.3 Million Acre Feet a Year (MAFY) while California gets a princely 4.4. This was a big mistake in the water wars for Nevada.


Posted in Water

Colorado River. The most litigated river on the planet

Credit: peakwater.org

Seven states and Mexico get water from the Colorado River. California gets more than any state. The agreements governing the water are outmoded and need to be changed. Plus, the Colorado is in severe drought now.

More about the Colorado River water wars at Independent Voter Network.

Posted in News

Water wars between countries possible, UK Energy Secretary

“Countries have not tended to go to war over water, but I have a fear for the world that climate instability drives political instability The pressure of that makes conflict more likely,” he said.

Climate change accelerates the instability as does population growth. One recurring water war is cities vs. agriculture. City dwellers often can’t understand why farmers use so much danged water. Um, so city dwellers can eat?

Posted in News

California water wars: Imperial Valley water rights

Imperial Dam (Credit: commons.wikimedia.org)

The Imperial Valley gets 20% of *all* the water from the Colorado River – more than Nevada and Colorado combined – and produces substantial amounts of the country’s winter vegetables.

If you’re wondering why the Imperial Valley gets so much water from the Colorado, it’s because their claim to the water is so old that it supercedes all other claims.

But San Diego and Los Angeles are looking hungrily at that water supply.

More on the Imperial Valley water wars.

Posted in Water


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