A good synopsis; not new thought.

I was real interested in what the Congressional Research Service had to say about drought, but got puzzled reading the actual report. It didn’t add anything, or talk about what Reclamation should do, and I didn’t understand the point of it as I was reading along.   It wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t advocating anything or presenting new research, so I didn’t understand why they wrote it until I got to the very last paragraph.

At issue for Congress in the short term is how to evaluate legislative proposals for waiving the federal ESA or otherwise increasing water supplies that could result in the extinction of several fish species. Congress may also consider broader legislation that would help water users while working within the boundaries of the ESA, thereby attempting to protect endangered species as well as economies dependent on both reliable water supplies and healthy ecosystems, including declining fish populations.

OH!  That’s what this is about?  This is written in response to SJ Valley politicians trying to weaken the ESA, with their inane “Turn On the Pumps” stunts?  Oh.  In that light, the report is pretty interesting.   It is a good explanation of the many factors that are shaping the drought outcomes.  Says that most of it is from hydrology; some of it is from pumping restrictions; that the structure of CA water rights focuses and intensifies the drought effects on junior rights holders.  Mentions the trade-offs with the fishing industry if fisheries collapse.  Says that the recession is a big part of what is dragging down Mendota.  I’m thinking that if I were a Congressperson who didn’t know more about CA water then this report, I would think that there are a number of interacting factors, only one of which is the ESA-based pumping restrictions.  Which is true.  Good job, Congressional researchers.

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3 Comments

Filed under Drought

3 responses to “A good synopsis; not new thought.

  1. quanticle

    You didn’t need to go to the last paragraph to see the point of the report. They state the reasons for it pretty clearly in the second paragraph.

    While three years of hydrological drought conditions have created a fundamental shortage of water supply in California, many water users have questioned the extent to which regulatory and court-imposed restrictions on water removed from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers Delta, in order to protect fish habitat, have contributed to water shortages in 2009. Conversely, fishermen and others question to what degree increased Delta pumping in 2004 contributed to fish declines.

    That pretty clearly lays out why the report was written. Farmers are pointing the finger at fishermen. Fishermen are pointing the finger at farmers.

  2. That’s basically what CRS reports always are – piles of facts, neatly summarized, without advocacy for particular policy approaches. They tend to be very “journalistic.”

  3. onthepublicrecord

    Good to know. Thanks.