C-WIN Responds to the Los Angeles Times

The opinion piece “Gavin Newsome Needs a Plan for California’s Endangered Water Supply” was published by the LA Times on January 14, 2019. C-WIN has been working on the plan explained in our response below. We’re very much looking forward to working with Governor Newsom on California’s water issues. Download a PDF of our letter to the LA Times editorial board here.

17 January 2019

In response to Gavin Newsom needs a plan for California’s endangered water supply published on January 14, 2019.

Dear Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, 

Governor Newsom has an unprecedented opportunity and the tools he needs to bring the State’s water demand and supply into an equitable and realistic balance. Ending the gross mismanagement of our state’s most precious resource is the first step.

This can be done with a series of measures our new governor can initiate immediately:

1. Quantify how much water is available for export from the Delta. The Department of Water Resources has never quantified the amount of water available for export from the Delta watershed. After a three-year investigation, C-WIN — the public interest group I founded with Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia — determined that the water of the 20 rivers of the Delta watershed have been oversubscribed by 5 1/2 times what is available. Our thorough analysis has been corroborated by an independent U.C. Davis study. This “paper water” is at the heart of California’s water mismanagement. The Twin Tunnels should be suspended until this work is completed.

2. Initiate a Public Trust Analysis. As the steward of California’s Public Trust resources, the State is obligated to perform this analysis, which will determine the needs of all users of California’s fresh water. Using a myriad of excuses,the State has been unwilling to do this up to now. C-WIN is already working with the experts who can perform a Public Trust analysis. EcoNorthwest are the highest court-designated experts in the Exxon Valdez, Hudson River PCB and BP Gulf oil spill cases — world-class economists with years of experience quantifying the financial value of natural resources and the impacts of policy and infrastructure on communities and the environment. 

3. Implement the standards of the 2009 Delta Reform Act. Determine how much new water is available from south of the Delta regional supplies, including reclamation, storm water capture and environmentally responsible desalination. Money spent here is more productive than tunnels and dams that supply no new water.

4. Adjudicate the 20 rivers of surface water and the groundwater in the Delta watershed. The California Delta watershed supplies half of all consumptive fresh water in the state. Until the source quantity is measured and beneficial water rights established through adjudication, no realistic solutions can be developed. 

This plan has been developed over time by a consortium of environmental organizations, of which the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN), is a key player. Until California understands how much real water there is to manage, it’s irresponsible to spend billions on tunnels that produce no new water and impossible to fix the problem of paper water and create sustainable and equitable policy that benefits ALL Californians. 

The time to act is now.

Carolee Krieger, Executive Director, C-WIN