Far as I can tell, it originated with the Friant Water Authority. Here is the mission; here is an interview that touches on it; here is the engineering proposition (Item 6); here is a draft of the lovely brochure (pages 6-7, after some budgeting). I could do a whole post on how visual language is converging for all the water documents and you can’t tell them apart anymore. But first, let’s figure out what the Valley Blueprint IS. In their language (top of pg 2):
Foundational to the Water Blueprint will be the development of a set of projects and associated operations that would bring the Eastern San Joaquin Valley into balance while avoiding as much land retirement as possible. This plan will include a comprehensive look at local, regional, and statewide activities and investments that, collectively, will aim to resolve 2.5 million acre-feet per year or more of regional overdraft. Given the magnitude of the problem being addressed, this plan will need to look ambitiously beyond the range of projects that have previously been contemplated for the region.
Full props. They did indeed take an ambitious scope. The premise is that no lands should go out of production in the Valley as a result of SGMA. Because growers over-expanded their current water supplies by a million acres, the shortfall when they are not allowed to mine groundwater is 3 million acre-feet/year (but we all know it was 5MAF/year during the drought). The Valley Blueprint aims to get that back by resuscitating every project that has ever been scrapped for failing a cost-benefit analysis or an environmental analysis. And why not! Now is their moment. The Trump administration doesn’t give a shit about either of those and the Newsom administration appears to be playing along as well.
Here is how the Friant Water Authority shows the problem and the solution:
The problem is that they are using 2-3 (but sometimes 5)MAF/year more water than they have, and they believe no land should go out of production. The solution?
Their solution is every expensive piece of water they can engineer to them. I do not exaggerate.
There is more in the powerpoint; some reservoir operational rules that will screw fish and amplify droughts. But what there isn’t is any cost or history or analysis. Because none of this is new. Most of these projects have been rejected for cause every time they’ve come up. It isn’t like these were good options that we happened to reject because we’ve never wanted water before.
But now, I guess, is the moment. Trump’s Interior will support this, at every cost. It is the times for grandiose proposals; just weeks ago I proposed a spectacularly expensive set of recommendations with no consideration of cost. Still, as the Newsom administration debates whether to include the San Joaquin Valley Water Blueprint into the Resilience Portfolio, I remind them that the purpose of the Blueprint is that the lands pictured here continue to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for millionaires for a few more years. I invite them to consider an alternative. They could add up the costs of the Water Blueprint and give every agricultural worker on the West Side a check for millions. It would be cheaper and do less damage.