I think this approach, suing to re-consider the project water contracts is exactly the right approach for people who want to limit north-south water transfers. I haven’t been sympathetic to claims that “plumbing is destiny,” that if you build a huge canal, it will inevitably be used to divert huge amounts of waters. My unsympathetic reaction has been, ‘but that ship has sailed.’ Project contractors are allowed to take huge amounts of water under their contracts and the time to fight that was whenever the contract re-negotiations were. Don’t prevent that big gulp of water by making 20 million people depend on extremely vulnerable infrastructure for their drinking water. Fight that by going after the contracts themselves. Looks like some groups are, so I’m glad*.
All this hinges on my (perhaps naive) belief that if the water contractors have smaller contracts, other interests will be able to monitor and limit the water deliveries through a Peripheral Canal to the lower legal amount. That’s what pro-Canal interests are asking you to believe, that the deliveries through the canal can be governed by law. I do understand why that is a hard sell. But I like this step, of challenging the contracts themselves. It does no good to say “The Peripheral Canal will be governed by law!” if the law is that contractors can take monstrous amounts of water. I hope that bringing those contract amounts down, to match new hydrology from climate change and ecosystem needs, is a first step in getting us to a governable system that includes working plumbing.
*I haven’t read the complaint, and I don’t entirely understand the press release. So I’m not endorsing the specific terms of this suit, which I don’t know. But I like the overall concept.