Round-up and commentary probably better suited for Twitter.

Mr. King wrote a supporting op-ed for the Bakersfield Californian.  I am delighted with his picture.  I am amused by this:

The past policy accomplished the desired goal; California attracted people from all over the country and developed into an economic powerhouse.

Mr. King properly understands that publically elected officials set a policy goal (economic development) for their water works.  What is funny to me is that he doesn’t see that subsequent publically elected officials have set a new goal by the same process they once set the old goal.   By the lights of the old goal, allocating water to the environment is inexplicable!  THERE WAS AN OLD GOAL BACK THEN!  What madness has overcome all the politicians since sixty years ago?


Mr. Cline wishes agriculture would work together as one, like they last did when defeating labor laws.

Agreements have been few and far between. The greatest occurred 40 years ago when agriculture united to defeat Proposition 14, which would have given the United Farm Workers open access to every farm in the state.

This is the shining example of agriculture presenting a united front?  How inspiring.


I haven’t read the federal Drought Action Plan yet. I am afraid I will die of boredom from clichés and safe proposals.  This article about the plan emphasizes data, so there’s half of my fears realized. The headline to the article teases me: Obama calls for proactive drought strategy. What would that look like?

I’ll tell you what proactive drought strategy would look like.  In agriculture, it would look like consolidating what little ag water we get on lands that produce important food for humans, perhaps as a zoning scheme.  It tells growers in advance where we won’t allow water to go in dry years, so they will know not to plant permanent crops.  It regulates groundwater, even in drought, so we choose which communities take the economic hit. It holds growers accountable for the subsidence their pumping causes.  Proactive drought strategy prevents adjacent growers from sucking municipal wells dry.  Proactive drought strategy helps the growers we want to support bridge dry times, perhaps with direct monetary support.  Proactive drought strategy plans this in advance of dry years.  But I would be extremely surprised to read any of this in the new federal drought plan.  It is too shocking to write even in a State plan, in a state in Year Five of a drought, so I don’t expect to see it in the federal plan.


For all that we talk about Australia as an example, we sure don’t seem to be learning from it.  Nothing in the mainstream talk about Californian water markets mentions keeping foreign investors from speculating with Californian water rights.

h/t to Chance of Rain.


Delta Watermaster George’s report on how farmers in the Delta voluntarily cut their water use by nearly a third is wonderfully written, not government-ese at all.  Since I respect all well-managed irrigation systems and think the current emphasis on drip is overly simplistic, I liked the detail on alternate furrow irrigation.  I share the growers’ concern about salt build-up.

h/t to Alex Breitler


Idle speculation:

I will be pleased to vote for either Democratic candidate in November.  In general, I think they will be greatly constrained by Congress and have to work through their agencies.  I very much like the thought of a Bureau of Reclamation instructed by President Sanders to prioritize clawing back the wealth of the 1% over all else.  He is a single-issue person and that would be a very interesting single issue to determine Reclamation’s doings.


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6 responses to “Round-up and commentary probably better suited for Twitter.

  1. I attempted, so far as know unsuccessfully, to post the following response to Mr King’s Bakersfield Californian letter to the editor about his god-given right to water his almond trees with water from somewhere (??) in the noth:

    While I agree with Mr. King that we have a collective duty to use California’s natural resources ‘in the best manner possible to create a positive living environment’ Californians have long disagreed, depending on their area of origin, on just what constitutes a positive living environment. When I entered the California natural resources conversation professionally 60 years ago San Francisco Bay and the rivers feeding it contained healthy fish populations that supported thriving fishing economies – a positive living environment to use Mr. King’s words. There were no almond orchards in Wasco then. It took northern California water from the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project to create Mr. King’s Wasco almond orchard. These general-taxpayer subsidized water projects supply water under contracts that are limited to amounts when-and-as-available. They never ‘guaranteed water entitlements’ as asserted by Mr. King. I’m sure Mr. King is an excellent accountant. He should have done a bit more ‘due diligence’, however, before investing in a water-intensive orchard in a desert based on a when-and-as-available water supply.

  2. No one, especially the State Water Resources Control Board who is tasked with this job, can manage a resource such as water without measuring it. I believe the only way to untangle the current water rights mess is to adjudicate the surface water of the Delta.

    Let me tall you why. In 2009, when C-WIN asked the SWRCB how much water they were dealing with in the Delta watershed (San Joaquin, Sacramento and Trinity rivers and all of their tributaries) we couldn’t get an answer. And there was no answer for how much had been promised in pre and post 1914 water rights claims.

    So after three years of Public Records Act requests and Freedom of Information Act requests, C-WIN put the report together with the documentation and submitted it to the SWRCB in 2012.

    The answers we got are shocking. On average there are 29 MAFY of consumptive water available in the Delta watershed and there are 153.7 MAFY of claims for that water.

    No wonder there is so much fighting and uncertainty. And there is the longstanding senior water rights system that must be taken into account.

    So until there is a proper surface water adjudication through the courts, no one is going to untangle the layers of paper water promises. This is bound to be a very long process…so why not start now.

  3. Michael Wall

    I just wanted to post my Thank You to On the Public Record and to those posting such thoughtful and well informed comments. I am encouraged, a little more hopeful, and educated by this blog.

  4. Noel Park

    It would seem that salt buildup is s serious problem in the SJV as well. I’m sure that someone more learned will correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my understanding that SWP water is pretty high in salt, which will be the final undoing of Westlands, et al IMHO.

    I’ve been told that the Friant water users still have a claim on the water released in the San Joaquin River re watering project once it passes the Merced confluence. The idea was to pump an equivalent amount out at Tracy, send it down to the bottom of the Friant Kern canal, and then somehow run it backwards therein. No, I am not making this up.

    But the Friant Kern customers don’t want this because of the salt issue. So the search goes on for some alternate conveyance. Crazy stuff.