Big versus little.

Here it is again, more evidence of the new big v. little alignment in water politics.  From the State Water Contractors (very big), in testimony about water governance (pg 4):

Therefore, SWC makes the following recommendations regarding the role and activity of the SWRCB in its oversight of water rights:

1. To protect other beneficial users of water and the environment, the SWRCB should commence hearings to establish a diversion amounts and schedules for in-Delta water users within the CDWA and SDWA based upon water rights, hydrology and water legally available for diversion in the Delta after meeting the Bay-Delta Basin Plan objectives.

2. The SWRCB staffing should immediately be expanded to enable it to identify and halt all illegal diversions.

“[O]ther beneficial users of water and the environment” means Los Angeles and farmers in the San Joaquin. If salmon have to live in order to turn the pumps on, then it means (begrudgingly) salmon too.

“Halt all illegal diversions” means YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED, quainte asparagus farmers in the Delta.

I’m all in favor of cracking down on small diverters. My friend talks about standing in a stream and trying to figure out whether the incoming water is a tributary stream or run-off for overirrigated pasture. The little guys get careless, because precise water diversion and application cost more money than a small operation can afford*. Even if they only lower instream flows for a few hundred feet before the water comes back, the smaller warmer river can still strand and kill fish.

I like the recommendation fine, but I am still surprised by this new split in water users and the division in the ag community.   I wonder if the little guys have caught on yet or if they still think there is solidarity in ag.



Thanks to Aquafornia for a great job compiling these stories.


*This concept, “more than a small operation can afford”, is a hard one.  If it is true, then you face the prospect of putting people out of business.  But if it is true, what you are saying is “this business cannot afford to pay the full costs of doing it right” or “this business is only profitable if environmental costs are externalized”.  Which is also, “this business is a loss to the broader community so long as it exists”.  Since that’s what I hear when I hear businesses complain about internalizing their costs, I’m always a little surprised that they bring it up so fast.

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