What I see in the Drought Proclamation (11-20)

A conscientious blogger would give a little italicized summary of each point in the Drought Proclamation, so you don’t have to go back and forth to read this. Unfortunately for you, after two years spent with Somali pirates, I disdain the niceties of civilization. You will have to rough it, as I did. I didn’t see much in the second half of the proclamation, so here are my not-especially-interesting impressions.

11 and 12. What I see here is the State getting ready to get involved in groundwater management. A report due by April 30th about basins with groundwater shortages and gaps in water monitoring? That report is sure to make recommendations. If I were an advocate rather than a scrupulously neutral bureaucrat, I would be pushing very hard on this opportunity.

13. If they have any sense at all, they would pay the Maven about a million dollars to design this and turn it over to CDFA staff.

14 and 15. Nice to see fish get a mention. I hope Fish and Wildlife are given the resources to do a good job assessing and managing the drought impacts on endangered species.

16. I don’t know much about this.

17. I don’t know much about this either. I have the faintest sense that it is tied to some nice work that DWR has done with JPL and NASA. But that’s as much as I know.

18. Yep.

19. This was such a hot political item in the last drought, because advocates for west side agriculture were trying to co-opt the image of farm laborers to get pumping restrictions from the biological opinions protecting smelt lifted. It baffled the emergency responders. They are very good at providing food services in emergencies, but it isn’t typical for the State to step in to help workers when a local industry fails. We all sort of agreed that we couldn’t complain too much about anything that helped people in Mendota, but it was clearly a political statement, not a usual way to respond to on-going local unemployment.

Since this isn’t a continuation of Schwarzenegger’s manipulations, I do wonder what the goal of this effort will be. Is it to help laborers in Mendota? They can be helped by giving them enough money to get out and giving their children ways to go to college. Is it to maintain a permanent local stock of laborers with forty percent unemployment that growers can draw from if the drought ends? Then they can maintain their own damn serfs, far as I’m concerned.

20. It is as difficult for the Drought Task Force to monitor the impacts of drought as it is for anyone behind a screen in Sacramento. My guess is that they’ll be reading the news closely, just like you. I do have some suggestions for Jerry, which I’ll make soon.

My overall impression of this Drought Proclamation is that it is a very strategic document. It leaves open a lot of opportunity for change, especially for groundwater management, drinking water and wildlife. I don’t think the authors of this know precisely where they want to go. If I were advocating, I’d seed local news stories with descriptions of a relevant impact, then point to those impacts, point to an item number here, and approach the Drought Task Force with the hoped-for solution.

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