Environmental Water Caucus Offers Real Alternatives for California Water to the Delta Stewardship Council
On September 24, 2010, the Delta Stewardship Council received a presentation from members of the Environmental Water Caucus on California Water Solutions Now (now in its 3rd edition), a report that details solutions for the states water systems and its rivers and streams.
Shasta Dam in the late 1970s.
Paper water can be observed for any watershed any time people and corporations argue about water use and water rights, including the rights of ecosystems to flows remaining in the stream for their survival.
Sacramento River along State Route 160
They need a lot more than they're getting now, many scientists and C-WIN's senior research associate Tim Stroshane wrote the State Water Resources Control Board in February 2010 before hearings on Delta flow criteria.
And Delta fish need even more flows to come from the San Joaquin River, scientific witnesses told the Board.
Substituting marsh or wetland habitat for fresh water flows through the Delta will not bring back the plummeting populations of estuarine fish and migratory salmon, several witnesses including C-WIN's Stroshane told the State Water Resources Control Board in prepared testimony. River flows are themselves key habitat, they said.
Since the 1960s and 1970s, the State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project have supplied irrigation water to approximately 1.3 million acres of drainage-problem lands on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Lake Basin.
According to the Pacific Institute, retiring these lands would save up to 3.9 million acre-feet of water annually. C-WIN agrees.
Costs of water conservation versus dams
While California has numerous success stories in water conservation, as a state we must do better. As the two charts (left) show, the costs of urban water use efficiency/conservation are relatively low compared with the potential yield of water from increasing efficiency. By comparison, the costs of two major new dam proposals (Sites Reservoir in the western Sacramento Valley and Temperance Flat Dam on the San Joaquin River) are quite high while the water yield from such investments is low and would benefit only a narrow sector of the California economy—agribusiness.
Some agribusiness interests hope that these two dam projects can be built from the water bills signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in November 2009. But as these charts show, these projects have very high costs relative to the water they would produce.
C-WIN's Water Rights Action Program benefits public trust protection and reasonable use of water. Visit our Water Rights Protest archive.
Whatever results come from the state and federal governments’ Bay Delta Conservation Plan process, recent legislation in the State Legislature to "fix the Delta," the 2010 water bond, the Delta Vision Task Force process, potential permanent water transfers—they all must obtain permits from the State Water Resources Control Board.
Pump me a river: Banks Pumping Plant near Old River can pump up to 10,400 cubic feet of water per second.
The California Water Impact Network consistently asks “big picture” questions that the State Water Resources Control Board has consistently failed to address with the Bay-Delta estuary:
Salt in the earth, San Joaquin Valley.