California water wars heat up over Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

California Aqueduct

“Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over,” said Mark Twain, which is certainly true here in California and in the southwest in general. The problem, of course, is that much of our water comes from someplace else, like the Owens Valley, Colorado River, or the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and is pumped hundreds of miles to its final destination.

This creates all manner of political and cultural conflict as well as a byzantine system of laws, regulations, and water rights.Water battles pit cities against farmers, environmentalists against developers, municipalities against each other, and even Democrats against Democrats.

Say what?

Yes, Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, recently launched a scathing attack against the Bay Area’s George Miller, D-Martinez claiming he supports polluters and cares not if Latinos in the Central valley are unemployed because of his misbegotten policies. “He is the flag carrier for outsiders who are willing to destroy our Valley way of life, our economy and our families,” concluded Costa.

This virtual declaration of war within one party is just another of the endless battles about who gets water from the Sacramento Delta. In this case, salmon fishermen won out over those in the San Joaquin Valley and southern California. Their fishing season has been canceled two years running due to water being sent to farmers.

They say they can’t take a third canceled season, because it will destroy them financially. Valley farmers say, without that water, they will get clobbered too. That’s what Rep. Costa is talking about.

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