California’s biggest water problem has always been too many people, too much agriculture, and too little water to supply everyone. Ground Zero for this is the Sacramento Delta. Send too much water south and fish and fishing in the Delta suffer. Send too little water and Central Valley agriculture and southern California may have water shortages. There is no easy answer here. Allocating water for one area means other areas gets less water.
The big news is Sen. Feinstein, House Majority Speaker McCarthy, and outgoing Governor Brown are supporting extension of a federal law to send more water south. The extension would need to be passed this month and is designed, at least in part, to block the State Water Resources Control Board from keeping more water in the Delta.
Yes, it’s convoluted. And environmentalists oppose it.
The WIIN Act also gives the federal government’s Central Valley Project and the State Water Project more operational flexibility to increase water deliveries at certain times of year to the south state through the massive pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, leaving less water in the system for Chinook salmon and other endangered species.
The ability to pump more water has become a key demand of local water agencies that are in the midst of trying to negotiate a water flow agreement for the lower San Joaquin River watershed.
Doug Obegi, a lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the outgoing Democratic governor is cooperating with the Republicans in an effort to keep the Trump administration from backing away from his controversial Delta tunnels proposal. “This appears to be a quid pro quo where the governor trades away our salmon and thousands of fishing jobs for his stupid Delta tunnels,” Obegi said.