"The only reason we can come up with to dink around for two years is to come up with excuses to not build reservoirs."
Jan 26, 2015
"After the State Water Commission met Wednesday, its chairman, Joe Byrne, issued a statement that said basically, we don’t have to allocate the money for storage until the end of 2016, and we’re going to spend the next two years developing a whole new set of guidelines and regulations on how to allocate the bucks." - Chico Enterprise-Record
So, we passed a water bond that has $2.7 billion for storage and now we're going to spend the next two years putting together an entire new set of new guidelines? We knew there wasn't any specific language in the bond for any storage project and we always wondered why the NRDC supported the bond while saying no dams would be built (NRDC: Prop 1 is not earmarked for new dams), but we were told not to worry. In California, we always worry.
Before this water bond passed Californians had passed $18.7 billion in water bonds since 2000. Add the $7.5 and we get $26.2 billion and we have no dams and now we'll study for two more years. Same old song and dance.
Didn't take long to kick this can down the road.
"The work’s already been done. The answers are already known. The only reason we can come up with to dink around for two years is to come up with excuses to not build reservoirs." - Chico Enterprise-Record
Editorial: Prepare for reality check on state water bond
It’s hard to know what voters expected to happen when they approved the $7.5 billion water bond in November.
We do know our north state legislators thought the $2.7 billion included for increased water storage would result in pretty quick movement toward at least one and maybe two new reservoirs. That’s why they supported it.
We were skeptical. There was no specific language in the bond that the money would go to Sites Reservoir west of Maxwell or Temperance Flat, on the San Joaquin River upstream from Millerton Lake northeast of Fresno. We recommended a no vote on Proposition 1 for that reason. It seemed like we were taking on a lot of debt that would send money who knows where.
However, our representatives were enthusiastic backers of the bond. Sites would happen, they said, because it was so far ahead of the game. Years of already completed work points to Sites as the best solution. There’s no way the bureaucrats charged with making the decision would ignore the obvious, right?
After the State Water Commission met Wednesday, its chairman, Joe Byrne, issued a statement that said basically, we don’t have to allocate the money for storage until the end of 2016, and we’re going to spend the next two years developing a whole new set of guidelines and regulations on how to allocate the bucks.
Mind you, the water system that serves California has been in place for decades and the glaring problems with it have been obvious for years.
A need for more storage is one of those glaring needs. That’s what prompted the years of studies on Sites and Temperance Flat and raising Shasta Dam. That’s how we know Sites is the least damaging way the north state can help California south of the delta with its water deficit.
But the commission sounds like it’s going to start from scratch. “California voters have entrusted this commission with a huge responsibility,” Byrne wrote, “and it is one that we do not take lightly.”
The work’s already been done. The answers are already known. The only reason we can come up with to dink around for two years is to come up with excuses to not build reservoirs.
A lot of people in this state like less obtrusive yet unproven solutions, like storing water in the ground. Indeed, one past water bond was written in such a way that much of the taxpayer money could only be spent on groundwater banks in the southern San Joaquin Valley. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work, as Bay Area districts that stored water there learned last year. Their water ended up being downstream from them.
In a normal year, they’d swap that water with districts farther south. The south state districts would take the Bay Area’s stored groundwater, and the Bay Area in exchange would take the south state’s surface water as it moved past in the aqueducts heading south. Last year that flow south was cut to nothing, and the water under Kern County was out of reach. There was actually talk of using pumps to reverse the flow in the California Aqueduct to make that water accessible.
For it to work for all the state, the water has to be stored where it comes from and where the plumbing starts, up here in the north. Groundwater storage isn’t feasible here due to the nature of the aquifers. It has to be surface storage. We aren’t really interested in damming the few streams that still flow free. The options are to either raise Shasta Dam or build Sites.
Raising Shasta would cost over a billion bucks, add 600,000 acre-feet of water storage, but comes with serious impacts to the environment and California Indian cultural locations. Sites would cost three times as much, save three times as much water, and doesn’t have the other baggage.
But all this is known, as these options have been studied for years. Apparently the only people who don’t know — or are ignoring the common knowledge — are the people who control the purse strings.
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