I am seeing more local newspaper op-eds opposing the San Joaquin Valley water dogma than I ever have before. Part of it is about replacing Nunes, but it also opens the door for new ways of thinking about water If this is the work of the local resistance, you guys are doing a great job. They are feeling the pressure.
The longstanding water dogma of the San Joaquin Valley has been narrow. The premise is that farmers need more (extracted from the environment), and the only other lens for water policy is farmworker jobs. I don’t pay as much attention to the water quality news stories, but I don’t remember many of them from the Valley before 2011-2016 drought, even during the 2006-2009 drought. Post drought, I’m seeing a few topics emerge:
- Drinking water supply in rural Valley towns. (Related: longstanding racism, paying for ongoing O&M for water treatment, nitrates in the groundwater, arsenic standards, special district consolidations). This is getting well-deserved attention, primarily because of the local organizing done over the past several years.
- Urban water quality in Fresno, particularly fear of lead poisoning.
- SGMA implementation, including the formation of water markets and who will have access when Groundwater Sustainability Plans are being written.
- Having living rivers in the region, with access for everybody.
These are all relatively undeveloped issues, from a statewide policy perspective. I am sure locals have been aware and working on these for decades, but at my remove, I haven’t heard anything on water policy out of the San Joaquin Valley besides the standard clichés. Further, these issues are tremendously susceptible to the wonder powers of the progressive left: community organizing, developing policy based on science, and throwing money at problems. Imagine if Nunes and Valdao had spent any effort on these or had brought home any money towards these objectives? The few issues they have harped on for years are deadlocked; the discussion around them played to exhaustion.
I am inspired by the new themes emerge in the Fresno Bee, the Visalia Times-Delta, the Hanford Sentinel. I greatly admire Lois Henry’s work at Bakersfield.com. The local community organizing on drinking water done during the drought is bearing fruit now. There are concrete bills and proposals that California can implement (imagine if the State had constructive local Congressmembers to work with). The Resistance to Trump is opening new arenas for progressive work on Valley water. I love to see it. Please let me know if I can help.