Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Let the water wars begin

Latest report out of Sacramento is that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is mulling an executive order that would start construction on a Peripheral Canal.

Recall that the Peripheral Canal is one of the most controversial ideas in state politics at the moment, and the Legislature can't decide whether to pass it or send it the way of the 1982 canal proposal. That's probably because most of the people representing the Central Valley know that a peripheral canal will siphon water away from rivers and sloughs that farmers and fish depend upon to meet the demands of south-valley farmers and residents in the what would otherwise be desert hills of Los Angeles.

The Peripheral Canal will undoubtedly alter the Delta, and, many fear, would render impossible any attempt to restore it to some semblance of a health.

So why is the governor apparently willing to skip the legislative process? Well, this governor has never had much patience for the wrangling and compromise of the Capitol. I'd also guess that the powerful interests of Southern California were too much for even the Governator to oppose.

But if a Peripheral Canal is built (and it probably shouldn't be), it needs to be done with all the major players aboard. If this report is true, then the Central Valley is being left out of the loop, and local farmers, fishers -- and Mother Nature -- will pay the price for the rest of the state's unquenchable thirst.

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