Members of the State Board, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of arguments for and against the flow objectives. I’ll add a couple more arguments in favor, hoping that I am not repeating the comments you’ve already heard.
- I saw the rally outside the capital today. There were a lot of people holding signs, saying that they depend on the status quo. I point out that the rivers would have had a similar constituency had they not been destroyed and blocked off from the public. If the Merced, Stanislaus and Tuolumne were still living public rivers, there would be people who love them to rallying at the capital to urge you to protect them. If the situation were reversed, if you were deciding whether to let the flow of the Russian River dwindle to 11 percent, or dry to muddy flats in the summer, you’d have everyone in Sonoma and Mendocino counties at rallies at the capital, telling you that their river is crucial to them. Yes, there was a crowd at the capital today, speaking for diverting water to ag. The other side is missing because their rivers are missing. The people who remember those rivers still yearn for them.
- If you believe that systemically returning flows to rivers for the sake of California’s ecosystems should be done, then I hope you also realize that this is your best chance to do it. It is a weighty responsibility, and I know you take the opposing perspectives seriously. (A lot more seriously than I would prefer, honestly.) But this moment won’t necessarily come again if postponed. After the administration changes, you could be just like the rest of us, sitting at a screen, wishing we could make things right, trying to find the right words to convince people with the authority you have right now to bring back our rivers. Affirming the Lower San Joaquin River flows will earn you a longlasting reputation on both sides. In the long run, I think you will be proud of wrenching Californian water onto a parallel track, where rivers live and private economic uses of water are checked.
6 responses to “A couple side thoughts about the Lower San Joaquin River flow objectives.”
Thank you for your obviously heartfelt words. I could not agree more. I truly believe that the future of the human species is hanging in the balance.
Just for the record, Anonymous above is Noel Park. I guess my name got lost in the system somehow.
I heartily agree. There is a lot of middle ground to find solutions that keeps almost all agriculture, and employs environmental flows to actually achieve environmental, ecosystem, and recreational improvements for people living in the Valley. Sadly, the ends of the debate often choke the middle.
Add my voice to those who agree. We were able to work out a solution for Mono Lake because so many people — including a vast number from Los Angeles — refused to accept that the only choice was all of the water for LA or all of the water for Mono Lake. The Water Board shaped a solution that shared the water, ensuring the restoration of a healthy ecosystem at Mono Lake at the same time LA developed met its water needs through increased water efficiency and recycling (and LA continues to use the roughly the same amount of water as the mid-80’s despite the growth of its population).
California and the people of the Central Valley need living healthy rivers as much as we need to grow food. There are solutions that will change the way in which agriculture operates but will continue maintain a thriving agribusiness in California. But the path to the solution has to start with ensuring that there are sufficient environmental flows to maintain healthy ecosystems — which is what the Water Board is proposing here.
Thank you for your thoughtful analysis. It was good to see OTPR show up in my inbox again.