Our View: Math makes governor’s pipeline a pipe dream
by Press Editorial Staff
Aug 10, 2012 | 7223 views | 16 16 comments | 196 196 recommendations | email to a friend | print
For the second time, Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to move water around California, and this time feels a lot like the last.

While his most recent plan to ship water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is dressed up with years of reports, and while Brown’s peripheral canal has changed to a pair of peripheral tunnels, one thing remains the same from his first water project in 1982: His plan won’t add water to the state’s overall supply.

That’s a problem, because that is the real issue. There simply isn’t enough water in the Delta to fulfill demand and leave enough water to sustain some semblance of an ecosystem.

Part of the problem can be traced to when the California Aqueduct and the Delta-Mendota Canal — which ship Delta water to the Central Valley and Southern California — were built.

Contracts to south-of-the-Delta users were handed out with the idea that water would be shipped from the far northern reaches of the state to supplement the water sucked out of the Delta. But those northern rivers were proclaimed off-limits to water exports (and are, not surprisingly, the healthiest rivers in the state).

That left less water to hand out than the contracts called for, one of the reasons that even in a wet year like 2011, those who receive water from the Delta-Mendota Canal get less than 100 percent of their entitlements.

That puts a hefty strain on south valley farmers who have planted orchards or can’t water crops.

Still, the basic math hasn’t swayed some people, who say the only issue is that the pumps near Tracy feeding the aqueducts suck up an endangered fish.

If that were true, moving the intakes away from the fish — as the governor’s proposal envisions — would be a workable solution.

But the presence of those fish, and the environmental protection they enjoy, is one of the few things preventing the Delta from being sucked dry and San Joaquin County agriculture from suffering a body blow.

If the pipeline is built, the governor’s administration says protections would ensure that the north-of-the-Delta pumps wouldn’t run all the time and that standards for water flow in the Delta would be maintained. According to the Department of Water Resources, that would ensure the San Joaquin County portion of the Delta doesn’t dry up.

But it’s easy to imagine, in a drought “emergency” like the one in 2007 to 2009, that political heavy hitters who rely on pumped water would put pressure on the governor to lift those restrictions. In that case, it’s the folks and farmers in the Delta who would be left high and dry.

The only analysis that makes sense is that the peripheral tunnel idea would result in less water for the Delta and more water for users in the Central Valley and SoCal.

You don’t even have to follow the water to figure that out — all you have to do is follow the money.

The biggest backers of this plan are the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and irrigation districts along the western side of the San Joaquin Valley, all of whom take water pumped south out of the Delta.

The only reason for moving the intakes away from where the endangered fish live is so that more water can someday be pumped.

If that’s not the case, there seems little reason to build the pipes in the first place.

The problem isn’t an endangered fish. It’s basic supply and demand.

The governor’s pipeline plan won’t fix that fatal flaw.
Comments
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farmwater
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August 13, 2012
The rationale behind this editorial would have us all locking the doors to our homes and never venturing outside. A distrust of contract law that governs how much water moving through the Delta could be diverted and a distrust of an elected government to arbitrarily change operating procedures for the proposed tunnels leaves no room for reasonable discussion. Such thinking will hold California back from securing a reliable water future.

Mike Wade

California Farm Water Coalition
RedHotChilliPeppers
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August 13, 2012
I disagree.

Instead of performing what would end up looking like "heart bypass surgery" from an aerial view.

Why don't we fix the canal we already have?

In other words take the main artery and unclog it.

Instead of sending liquid parallelograms up and down the coast.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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August 14, 2012
I also disagree Mike.

Th rational behind yer line of thankin is exactly why th Colorado River no longer empties inta th Gulf of California an why Mono Lake is a virtual wasteland.

Ya can only take so much water out before ya start ta do unrepairable damage ta other systems.

Th people have a distrust of contract law that governs how much water movin through th Delta could be diverted, along with a distrust of an elected government to arbitrarily change operatin procedures precisely because history has clearly shown in th past such contracts have not been held up an th members of th elected government have arbitrarily changed operatin procedures solely fer political purposes an th monitary rewards it has personally brought em.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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August 14, 2012
Mike,

I understand from what someone, on here (on other articles about the peripheral canal/pipes) who goes by "TomB_______" that farmers in Mendota are not getting water. Is that true?

If so, I truly feel for them because having travelled south on many occasions have witnessed the signs saying, "Congress created dustbowl", and seeing the existing canals with water traversing those very same thirsty and dusty fields.

Having witnessed that firsthand, myself, as you might also have done. Why would we promote more canals?

Might I asked a question? Have you put any thought into fixing the problem with the existing canal?
RedHotChilliPeppers
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August 14, 2012
If so, here is my suggestion.

Install a switching station that can divert water when a delta smelt is detected.

Lets say, five delta smelt coagulated in the canal and are a thousand meters from the pumping station.

One way to mitigate this impending sardine genocide would be to divide the acres per second into many multiple flows before the fish are sucked into the pumps.

By using the concept also known as divide and conquer, the water from five (or fewer) of "flows" could be diverted safely to a collection pond - using sensors.

If the ratio of smelt channels verses non-smelt channels is consideres properly, you could effectively maintain acres of water flow, while reducing the solution of smelt water to cubic feet per second.

Thus mitigating the smelt solluble water solution that is sold to farmers in dire need.

Fish used as ferterlizer, if required, can then be produced and sold at nurseries. And we do not have to build another canal through several CA counties. It's an idea that will help all CA farmers.
farmwater
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August 14, 2012
RedHotChiliPeppers: A lot of Mendota farmers, as well as others on the Westside, have had significant water supply restrictions, the most recent of which were in 2009 and 2010 due to regulatory (environmental) restrictions and drought. Thousands lost their jobs and the hit to California’s economy approached $1 billion. The reason the twin tunnels are the preferred alternative to fixing the problems in the Delta is that they separate water intended for 25 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland. Dredging the Delta channels doesn’t do that and the risk to threatened and endangered species is still there.



Mike Wade

California Farm Water Coalition
farmwater
|
August 14, 2012
Ornley_Gumfudgen: I agree that there is mistrust in how California’s water supply system is operated. Farmers counting on reliable water deliveries have had their supplies cut regularly going back to 1992. The twin tunnels provide a system that water users and the environmental community can count on to provide both water supply reliability AND the ecosystem protections called for by the legislature in 2009. You’re right. It will take trust. The current system isn’t working for ANY of the stakeholders that depend on it and trying to find the right balance in any solution requires give and take from both sides.

Mike Wade

California Farm Water Coalition
farmwater
|
August 14, 2012
Ornley_Gumfudgen: I agree that there is mistrust in how California’s water supply system is operated. Farmers counting on reliable water deliveries have had their supplies cut regularly going back to 1992. The twin tunnels provide a system that water users and the environmental community can count on to provide both water supply reliability AND the ecosystem protections called for by the legislature in 2009. You’re right. It will take trust. The current system isn’t working for ANY of the stakeholders that depend on it and trying to find the right balance in any solution requires give and take from both sides.

Mike Wade

California Farm Water Coalition
RedHotChilliPeppers
|
August 14, 2012
Mike,

Are you referring to the lawsuit against the state of CA, forcing them to dredge the Delta?

You do not think the risk will always be there - if you were to add a second path it would in fact, double that risk.

If you read my suggestion it will mitigate the risk to the delta smelt without creating additional impacts in multiple locations. This will create the trust.

Imagine if they cannot be trusted with one location, how can they make it work again. We need to learn to use what we have before we start the problem again elsewhere.

We simply have no choice. We really need to discuss technological solutions not political solutions. Do you think those in control of the the water issues really understand the issues?

I don't.
btokars
|
August 18, 2012
The California Farm Water Coalition which Mr. Wade represents so well would have you believe that there is such a thing as a "reliable water future." They insist that technology will smooth out the ups and downs of California water. But the reality is that humans in California have no control over how much rain and snow fall in any given year.

When Mr.Wade says, "...distrust of contract law that governs how much water moving through the Delta could be diverted and a distrust of an elected government to arbitrarily change operating procedures for the proposed tunnels leaves no room for reasonable discussion", he's telling the truth. But it's a truth based on a long history of his organizations biggest members doing everything they can to grab as much water as they want, with no regard for the long-term impact on our watershed.

Humans are clever creatures. We're smart enough to build things that make life more convenient. Some of us are willing to push a selfish agenda for short-term profit. Some of us are not.

Mr. Wade, people who actually care about California's future are not locking their doors. They are venturing outside to say Kill the Tunnels!
btokars
|
August 10, 2012
The scope of the impending tragedy that will happen to California's ecosystem and financial health if Governor Brown and the Feds move forward with the tunnel plans is unimaginable. We've seen the damage that the water projects have had on the Delta, the wild runs of salmon, and the people who have relied on the Delta being healthy. Governor Brown needs to understand that he is driving a train that is destined to crash with the resulting damage that will be on the backs of our grandchildren and generations yet unborn. Salmon Water Now has a number of videos on the subject and they are recommended viewing for anyone who actually cares about California.

7 Questions

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-n1LK1QVqc&hd=1

A Costly Mistake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUxJBYHlxKM&feature=relmfu&hd=1

Stop and Think http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnV6MCvXK38&feature=relmfu&hd=1

3012: The Space Salmon Incident http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64dqhgRM1qI&hd=1

The tragedy is that most of any water that flows through a peripheral tunnel will benefit a small group of agribusiness interests on the West side of the Central Valley. No matter how they spin it, those interests are farming on lan
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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August 10, 2012
Thank yer on th right track with yer thankin.

Anwar, good or ultimately bad? In that th dammin of th Nile changed an entire eco-system that cause a lot of problems, in my opinion more than it solved, I can't help thankin it was really a bad idea.

Yangtze an Yalow river projects now nearin completion in China. good or ultimately bad? Fer centuries th world, particularly Japan, has experienced massive dust storms headin frum th West an even at a magnitude large enough ta reach our West coast. Ever wonder why th sun tarns red, aside frum refraction in th atmosphere caused by water vapor in th air?

Well it's mainly caused by dust. Ya can see more of it when thairs a dust storm kickin up debris an when a big volcano pops its cork.

We have been concarned about global warmin caused by man an climate change whair th temperature drops causin massive amounts of snow. Now that th Gobi desert is now virtually expandin an th water frum th Yangtze an Yalow rivers have largely been dammed up fer massive hydroelectric benefits, one might expect weather patterns ta change.

Funny how few people thank about eco systems an thair negative gobal effects until after they created th problem.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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August 11, 2012
Sorry, meant Aswan not Anwar.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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August 10, 2012
I'm totally shocked. The Tracy Press finally got something right that almost everyone can agree on. Is this what we can come to expect with the new Texas owner. No more nonsene? Hope.

To celebrate, I'm having a plate of Texas toast.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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August 10, 2012
Well I don't always agree with th editorial staff on various thangs but on this one thair spot on with th problem. Good article.

Look, I want jobs an a recovery of th economy too. What completely stupid person wouldn't?

But this ain't th road ta recovery, it's th road ta disaster.

Thair will be elements in place ta keep these pumps frum runnin all th time?

Ya know, strangely enough, that's basically th same thang said when th people were all told th replacement water would come from up north. Now, how did that promise work out?

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

Thair is no guarantee an no hint of intention based on history that says yer gonna have enough water fer everyone an still maintain a vital ecosystem.

An given a lot of our food supply comes frum, or rather through, that ecosystem it's probably not a good idea ta negatively impact it.

Ya know, thair was a good reason th ole man upstairs designed it all this way, what makes mankind thank they can do better or even have th right ta change it?

We are already irrigatin what use ta be a desert, how much more can this watershed irrigate before we destroy it all?

No on Moonbeam's idea.
tommybahama
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August 10, 2012
Couldn't agree more Ornley.


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