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Tracking measurable success on efforts across California to preserve and connect our Parks & Wildlife Corridors

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dealing With California's Chronic Water Shortages, like some would prefer we do in reaction to high oil prices: do we sacrifice the environment rather than change our ways?

From the Planning and Conservation League, July 23, 2008

export less, govern better, and call me in the morning - Prescription for the Delta laid out in PPIC report
Reduced reliance on water exported from California's Bay Delta and an overhaul of the existing laws and institutions governing the Delta must be part of any Delta solution, according to the Comparing Futures For the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta report issued on July 17 by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). These imperatives for rebuilding California's central plumbing system and rehabilitating its fragile ecosystem call into question long-standing practices in the state's water management.
The report's call for a new governing body to oversee the Delta's future is at odds with provisions of Senator Feinstein and Governor Schwarzenegger's recently proposed water bond. As mentioned in last week's PCL Insider, the recent bond proposes to solidify the existing governance systems. Under this plan, the Department of Water Resources would have an inordinate amount of authority to manage the Delta and limit legislative oversight.
On Friday, during a policy briefing on the report, the authors also highlighted their conclusion that reducing reliance on water pumped from the Delta would be good for the economy, and that immediately reducing these water exports is necessary to avoid the extinction of Delta fish species.The report, however, was short on specific ways to reduced Delta water exports.
PCL has proposed a solution that would cut Delta water exports by nearly one-fifth: simply stop delivering Delta water to terminally contaminated land in the western San Joaquin Valley. Irrigating these polluted lands is widely-criticized and has resulted in the chronic contamination of the San Joaquin River and the south Delta. In addition, keeping these lands in production, most of which are within the Westlands Water District, costs American taxpayers millions of dollars in environmental clean up, and crop, energy and water subsides. The conclusions of the PPIC report reinforce the need to stop irrigating these lands to increase water supply reliability for Southern California and the Bay Delta. The conclusions of the PPIC report reinforce the need to stop irrigating these lands and transition the local economy to a cutting-edge, job-creating, sustainable business like large-scale energy production.
The PPIC report is not short on controversial conclusions, including an endorsement of the notorious peripheral canal. The "PC" has hogged media attention during the short aftermath of the report's release. Yet, while further study of the peripheral canal will determine whether it is appropriate for the Delta, immediate implementation of the policy recommendations included in the report could begin addressing the Delta's water woes long before blueprints for a canal are developed. Policy makers can start by reconsidering Delta governance and eliminating some of the current uses of Delta water that no longer make sense.

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