A little rain dropped in northern California, enough to ruin commutes, but hardly enough to relieve the drought. Given California’s frequent approach to problems — doing nothing until a crisis hits, then moving on as soon as it passes — it won’t be surprising if this issue quickly becomes forgotten when downpours come, despite all the attention it’s getting now.
At a press conference earlier in January, Gov. Jerry Brown joked that“Governors can’t make it rain,” and said he was starting a task force. Politicians certainly can’t make it rain, but they can build the kind of water storage facilities that a growing population in a dry state needs to weather the lack of future rainstorms. That’s the real issue here.
Has anyone seen this governor or his political allies so helpless in the face of nature?
They believe that California — by imposing a new cap-and-tradeprocess on businesses that emit carbon dioxide, changing the state’s land-use patterns and offering electric-car and hydrogen-highway edicts — can avert a worldwide climate-change disaster. But they apparently can’t do much about a straightforward infrastructure issue.
President Barack Obama recently blamed the drought on “climate change,” but this drought is at least partly about long-running public-policy choices in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.
Instead of pushing for more water storage, state leaders, federal officials and environmentalists have been trying to reduce the amount of water storage. In November 2012, San Francisco voters were asked to begin the process of demolishing the Hetch Hetchy dam in Yosemite, which provides water for the City by the Bay.
Voters said no to that environmentalist priority, but the campaign to demolish the dam continues. As does the plan to demolish some dams along the Klamath River near the Oregon border. In April 2013, the Department of Interior released its final environmental impact statement, which touts the dam-removals as a means to create jobs and restore salmon habitats. Agree or not, but the goal has not been storing more water.
And the California Coastal Commission is holding up the construction of an ocean-water desalination plant in Huntington Beach, which is the kind of project that would add water supplies.
State officials often support water expenditures, but the spending proposals don’t often make reservoirs a priority. In response, two Republicans from the San Joaquin Valley, Anthony Cannella of Ceres and Andy Vidak of Hanford, on Thursday proposed a $9.2 billion water bond that “prioritizes” water storage and drinking-water quality issues.
The Legislature in 2009 approved an $11 billion water bond that’s now slated for the November ballot. This new proposal, SB 927, would revamp that old bond by reducing its size and eliminating some of its pork-barrel spending. The goal is to make it more palatable to voters and take the wind out of other bond alternatives that will fund less water storage. For instance, Democratic legislators have introduced water-bond proposals that echo the priorities of environmentalists by focusing more on ecosystem restoration and levee rebuilding....
Read`more here: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/Jan/31/pols-cant-make-rain-can-build...