I find it dismayingly easy to write critiques of people that I substantially agree with, but have some minor point of disagreement. Often that’s easier than taking on a fundamentally different viewpoint. But I’m finding even less to say when I don’t even have a minor point of disagreement.
The UCD/PPIC group made fantastic recommendations to the State Board on Measuring and Reporting Water Diversions. We would be substantially better off if those were thoroughly implemented. Too often recently, the state agencies have been pleading for money to support the gauging stations they already have. Some of those gauges have been providing decades of data; I have heard that after funding cuts, some personnel have continued checking gauges on their own time, so there aren’t holes in the record. More instruments, more telemetry would be a very welcome change.
I also liked and agreed with the proposals in PPIC’s recent Allocating California’s Water: Directions for Reform. I especially liked setting instream flows as the most senior water diverters, if we are going to keep our incredibly stupid and unjust seniority-based system. I didn’t think Allocating California’s Water went far enough, but the things they propose don’t foreclose any future options either and they tidy up some problems nicely. So I am in favor!
I thought the language in this EDF op-ed was interesting. He discusses removing barriers to “water sharing”, of which a market might be one example. I’d be pleased if we moved away from the inevitable “water market” or “water transfers” (which are also purchases) as the only means of moving water to different users. Maybe this marks a change in environmentalist support for water markets as the win-win, nobody-hates-you-for-saying-it proposal.
Hope you are having a good winter. I probably won’t write much until 2016. Happy New Year!
2 responses to “Good recommendations by PPIC/UCD group.”
Happy New Year to you too!
“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” We, at the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) (c-win.org) have been concerned about this for many years. So, in 2009 when we asked the SWRCB how much consumptive water was in the Delta watershed (San Joaquin, Sacramento and Trinity rivers and all their tributaries), as well as how many claims there were for that water, and got no answer, we did the work ourselves. After three years of Public Records Act requests and Freedom of Information Act requests, we were able to get the answers…there is approximately 29 MAFY of consumptive water available on average and there are 153.7 MAFY of claims for that water. The difference between the real wet water and what is expected in the water rights permits and the contracts is what we call “Paper Water.” No wonder there is so much fighting about water in California.
And to make matters more contentious, the State Water Project and the Central Valley Project are among the most junior water rights claimants in this very oversubscribed system. The SWP & CVP and Paramount Farms, as well as speculative real estate developers such as Newhall Ranch and Tejon Ranch…all with junior water rights claims or no claims at all…are controlling the politics that keep this charade going. It is likely they would have very little real wet water if there were a proper accounting.
You can’t manage what you don’t measure…so SWRCB, why not measure the Delta watershed? A surface water adjudication of the Delta watershed with a Public Trust Valuation is, we believe, the only way to really solve this critical problem for California…it’s people and the environment.