Saturday, September 20, 2008

More on our water woes

As mentioned in today's column, I see compromise as the solution to the state's seemingly chronic water shortages. Not everyone feels that way.

Jim McLeod, protagonist of the column, lays the blame squarely at the feet of the Endangered Species Act, because, as he puts it, it's a tool used by "environmental terrorists" to stop as much water from flowing to farmers and cities as they can. Laws that put the environment first are strangling water deliveries and the construction of water storage, he said, and in turn strangling Central Valley farmers.

It's worth pointing out that without "terrorists" like these and the ESA, we'd be polluting and ravaging our own backyards even more. It's also worth noting that farmers are by far the biggest users of Delta water in the state and are tilling land that isn't arable without sizable and unnatural importation of water.

But McLeod is right that stringent laws and concern about wildlife have prevented construction of more water storage facilities that could help transfer the bounty of wet years to ease the pain of dry ones. Here's a place where the environmental lobby could try to find some common ground with the folks growing their food.

And let's not forget those living in Parts Previously Unwatered who insist on green lawns despite living in the semi-desert that is the Los Angeles Basin. Don't tell me their constant demand for more water — from here, there and everywhere else — is reasonable.

What it comes down to is compromise. But the best we've been able to come up with is a peripheral canal that would kill the Delta and doesn't really address all other concerns, either. Sigh.

There has to be a balance between the Delta (environmentalists), the food (farmers), and the showers (urban dwellers).

Wonder if we'll ever be willing to find it...

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