Reactions to today’s water news.

Posting one-liner responses to the news of the day is totally cheap, isn’t it?  I’ll write more thoroughly about that LHC study in a bit, but for now, I can’t help myself.

An editorial in today’s Silicon Valley Mercury News is all crazy talk about ocean-shipping water.  I’ll let rising costs of oil speak for themselves, although now I am intrigued by the idea of a third kind of ports: container, bulk and … canal ports?  It would make Northern California’s talk about “area of origin” rights look tame.  One has only to read the comments in any SacBee water story to see that people would far rather stop exporting water than become conscientious about their own water use.  Whatever.  I didn’t mean to give a substantive evaluation.  I was going to chat about a side point.   The editorial says:

Our challenge is to not only conserve more and clean up the polluted water we have, but also to transfer large amounts of water from areas that enjoy surplus resources, such as Russia, Canada, Alaska and northern Europe, to areas that face long-term scarcity, like California.

Back in grad school, I came across a World Bank? some sort of international gung-ho water project type of report that said something very close to:

Irrigation is the science of correcting nature’s mistakes.

I was righteously outraged, and immediately printed it out and posted it on my door, because I love outrageous things.  I doubt anyone ever got my irony.  Engineers don’t really look for irony, you know?  Anyway, our challenge of the next while is to get to work importing water (by sea!) from northern countries that have lots.

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Big story about Asian carp.  I was all blah blah blah Asian Carp for a long time, because we all know that I don’t care about things that are east of the Sierras, much less the Rockies where they don’t even irrigate and are therefore outside of anything I could possibly relate to.  Then I went looking for Asian carp on YouTube.  Check this out, at about forty seconds.  Or watch this and this. Dude. I guess I believe the problem is real.

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Is the Pasadena Star News always so biased? I’ve never read it, so I don’t know. They’re urging their readers to go to the next board meeting of their water district, which I love, to object to the practice of paying board members to attend meetings, which I don’t love. The part that cracked me up:

As shown in stories we published in 2008, members of the Water Replenishment District of Southern California were getting paid $230 per meeting. Not far behind were members of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District at $200 a sit-down. This can add up to $20,000 to $30,000 in annual compensation.

My god! $20,000 to $30,000 of annual compensation, for something that is probably a 15 hour a week job!!!  The Pasadena Star News suggests those meetings are superfluous, created just for the $230 the board members get each time.  I have no trouble believing a district can generate enough real content to hold those meetings.  I particularly objected to this, from the same editorial:

Despite two directors saying this was wrong, the board majority voted to give members credit cards anyway, to charge up expenses at will. The ostensible reason was because one board member, Willard Murray, said he could not afford to front the money for trips, hotel rooms, meals and gasoline and then be paid back by the district 30 days after filing for reimbursement. Well, if he can’t play by the rules, he shouldn’t go on trips or eat meals on the district’s dime.

Does the Pasadena Star News realize that it is creating a situation where only wealthy people can afford to do the business of democracy?  Those committee members are doing the day-to-day business of the community: refilling groundwater basins and providing urban water in a manner that is open, public, and subject to voter approval.  We want every person in those communities to be able to afford to give their time, not just the people who can afford to advance the district for the costs of doing the district’s business as well as donate substantial time.

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See you later on today, when I plan to make gratuitous snide remarks about a sister agency.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Reactions to today’s water news.

  1. VickieP

    I love what you do here, but I’ve just got to pick a nit.

    An editorial is the opinion of the newspaper. It’s usually unsigned or it says something like “by the editorial board of the Podunk Post.”

    An OpEd is the opinion of an individual (or maybe two or three). It could be a columnist who works for the paper or it could be somebody from outside. In the days of print newspapers, such articles were published opposite the editorial page, hence the name.

    Of the articles you cite above, the Pasadena Star News article is an editorial. You can tell because it says “Our view.”

    The Silicon Valley Mercury News article is an OpEd. You can tell because it was written by two guys who don’t work for the paper.

    New York Times’ explanation: http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/faq/timesselectqa14.html

    Some person on Yahoo Answers: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100203151725AA0GDfI

  2. onthepublicrecord

    Thanks, you’re right. I’ve been using those interchangeably, and I should be more careful.