5 Feb 2009, 9:48pm
Salmon and other fish
by admin

Food Grows Where Water Flows

California Farm Water Coalition Press Release, February 4, 2024

“Water needs to be managed first for the needs of fish, and second for the needs of people.”

A statement like this is sure to inflame individuals in California’s water industry who struggle to provide the water needed by both our farms and cities. However, it is important to go beyond the immediate reaction to the statement and realize what this statement means to California’s water future.

The statement was taken from a presentation at last month’s International Sportsman Exposition in Sacramento and was made by an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). This group has long been a strong advocate toward increasing the water supply dedicated for the environment and it hasn’t mattered what the cost might be for others. NRDC has repeatedly used the court system to push its agenda.

The real surprise resulting from the statement is that it publicly acknowledges what many of us have thought for years — radical environmentalists will do whatever is necessary to take water away from farms and cities.

This approach to claiming increased water supplies for the environment has certainly been proven in recent years. One only has to take a look at the amount of water that has been redirected, mostly from farmers, to the environment since 1991:

1991: National Marine Fisheries Service biological opinion, 80,000 acre-feet.

1992: Central Valley Project Improvement Act, 800,000 acre-feet.

1994: Bay-Delta Accord, 1.1 million acre-feet.

2000: Trinity Accord, 600,000 acre-feet.

2006: San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, up to 200,000 acre-feet if water recovery under the Settlement is not realized.

2007: Federal court decision preserving water for Delta smelt, 600,000 acre-feet.

The combined total of these actions on an annual basis amounts to more than 3 million acre-feet of water. To put that in perspective, the contracted annual delivery of water from the State Water Project calls for 4.1 million acre-feet and annual contracts from the federal Central Valley Project total 7 million acre feet. Of course, neither of these projects is delivering anything near that amount of water this year.

California is entering a third consecutive year of drought and the prospect for water deliveries this year is not looking good. It will take all water interests working together to survive what is shaping up to be a crippling water year for all. If we are going to plan for a future that will adequately provide water for all Californians, then we must be willing to work together. It appears the National Resources Defense Council does not plan to be a part of that effort.

Copyright 2009, California Farm Water Coalition.

Note: see also Salmon Advocates Appeal to Kerry to Remove Lower Snake Dams [here]

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