The Central Valley Water Problem Is Still In The News

In 2010, I posted some pictures of my summer vacation (It’s my blog–I can do that). The pictures were of the California Central Valley, once the breadbasket of America, now a politically created dust bowl. This is one of the pictures:


Well, California Governor Jerry Brown is trying to change that. I don’t know how practical his plan is, but I love the fact that he is trying to change a really unfortunate situation.

Today’s Sacramento Bee reported that the state and federal water agencies that control most of Northern California’s water are negotiating the details of Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water diversion tunnels in the Delta with 279 farm and urban water buyers. These contracts will govern those relationships – and extend the government’s obligation to provide water – for decades.

The article reports:

How the new contracts are shaped will affect water rates for millions of Californians. It also will change how taxpayers at large continue to subsidize the many dams and canals that deliver water.

The process is a kind of house-cleaning for the giant financial investment required to build the proposed tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. If the $25 billion project is approved next year, the state will be selling bonds for decades to pay for it; and the bond buyers, before committing, will want to see that the state has a solid contractual foundation with water agencies.

Meanwhile, today’s Wall Street Journal reports:

The U. S. Bureau of Reclamation this spring cut water deliveries to farmers and the two-thirds of Californians who live south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to between 20% and 35% of their contractual allocations. The reason? Because 300 three-inch smelt were caught int he pumps at the south end of the delta. Since smelt is designated “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, it’s being protected at literally all costs.

I am not a scientist, but common sense tells me that you don’t destroy the breadbasket of America for 300 fish. Governor Brown’s solution to the Central Valley’s water problem is very expensive. However, if the voters don’t kill the project because of the expense, the environmentalists will kill it because it will promote growth in an area that is losing people because of unemployment.

In the past four years I visited California about twice a year (my military children were stationed there). It is a beautiful state with a wonderful climate (I live in New England. To me, most other places have a wonderful climate). It was truly sad to drive through the Central Valley (on my way to a family reunion in Santa Rosa) and see the dust bowl that had once been abundant farms that supplied America’s food.

I have no idea whether or not Governor Brown’s plan is the answer to the water problems in the Central Valley. I am impressed, however, that at least he is looking at the problem and attempting to do something about it. Water in the Central Valley would do wonderful things for both the California economy and the California unemployment rate.

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