General Fund Being Drained by Budget Crisis and Government-Induced Drainage Crisis


Posted on 05 October 2010

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionSend by emailSend by email

By Patrick Porgans
Planetary Solutionaries

While Californians are being held captive waiting for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature to adopt a budget, already more than 80 days late, costing “We the People” $52 million a day; more than $4 billion to date, they are also throwing $100s of millions down the drain and compounding California’s government-induced water crisis.

Within the past decade California has been besieged by a water supply crisis, a budget crisis, a credit-rating crisis, a jobs crisis, an education crisis, a health care crises and a water quality crisis. The water quality crisis was identified as a potential crisis in the 1950s, and has contributed to the pollution of a significant length of the 330 mile San Joaquin River. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 215.4 miles of the river are on the 303(d) list, (the latest EPA approved list is from 2006), adding to demise of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The primary sources of the water quality crisis is from toxic salt discharge from lands irrigated by subsidized water delivered by the federal Central Valley Project to contractors “farming” on the arid west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Millions of acre-feet of water are exported from the project’s Delta pumping plants which transport salt to and from those lands. All of this is being done as the government declares its intent to “save the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary” while sanctioning its demise. Common sense dictates that it is not possible to continue sanctioning the dumping of hundreds of tons of toxic salts into the San Joaquin River and the Bay-Delta Estuary annually and expect it to survive. 

Toxic salt loading is not only taking its toll on the river and Bay-Delta Estuary, it is draining the State General Fund, as a myriad of publicly funded programs for drainage, water quality improvement, fisheries restoration and others continue to be financed with borrowed money from the deficit-ridden General Fund.

Water officials have wasted more than $10 billion and 35 years in extended delays in their failed attempt to carry out their legal mandates to protect the waters of the state and restore the Bay-Delta Estuary.  In addition, the Bay-Delta Estuary was touted as the “ground-zero poster child” pitched by water officials in support of the so-called historical 2009 “Water Package” - $11 billion bond act, approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor.  Even the mainstream media acknowledged this “package” as a “backroom-pork-barrel deal”.  The “package” is once again being sold to “improve” the Estuary.  The bond measure has been rescheduled for the 2012 ballot.

The fact remains that for decades the “responsible” government officials and political appointees on both the State Water Resources Control Board and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control
Board (boards) have been sanctioning the discharge of trainloads of toxic substances into the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay Estuary. The discharges have been reported to exceed the state’s toxic threshold limits. The question as to whether this train wreck in the making will be allowed to continue dumping and pumping in excess of 3.4 million pounds of toxic salts per day into the waters of the state will be the subject of a meeting scheduled before the State Board on 5 Oct. 2010.
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/board_info/agendas/2010/oct/100510agenda.pdf

A significant portion of the San Joaquin River has been declared to be water quality impaired-polluted (unfit to swim in, eat certain species of fish and so forth). On a map published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 1999, entitled, Index of Watershed Indicators, it shows that the valley is the single largest “more serious water quality problem – high vulnerability” area in the nation. This dubious
distinction is the direct result of the boards’ failure to take action to stop the discharge of these toxic substances into the waters of the state, which exceed both state and federal water quality standards.
 
Source: Environmental Protection Agency - Index of Watershed Indicators
 

 For Further information regarding this Map go to:

http://www.unl.edu/nac/atlas/Map_Html/Clean_Water/National/EPA_IWI-1999/National_water_quality.htm

How much salt are we talking about? According to a U.S. Geological Survey report (at page 106), about 17 railroad cars a day, each capable of carrying 100 tons of salt (sodium and chlorides, as well as the really nasty trace elements like selenium and mercury), about 3.4 million pounds per day being dumped in the lower San Joaquin River in Merced County and sent on down to the Delta. In theory, some of the “experts” claim is ultimately flushed to sea, and the rest perhaps enters the aquatic food chain or at least degrades cleaner Delta water. As far back as the 1990s, evidence was provided by board’s staff that the salt loads into the valley are “doubling” every five years! (Source: State Water Board’s Bay-Delta Water Rights Hearings, Sacramento, CA., 29 Oct. 1998, Reported b y Mary Gallagher, CSR#10749.)

Proponents of the San Joaquin Basin Plan Amendment, which will be the subject of discussion at the State Board’s 5 October meeting, argue that the 1995 Grasslands Bypass Project has reduced toxic salt loading to the surface waters of the state.  However, the tons of toxics salts that are being discharge daily into the waters of the state are only the tip of the “iceberg.  An unfathomable amount of toxic salts are being stored in the soil profile and is contaminating groundwater basins throughout the valley.

Since its inception, critics of the Grasslands Bypass Project argued that the project would not work, simply because the only real way to resolve the discharge of the tons of toxic salts is to stop irrigating those lands that have known drainage problems. Despite the common sense urged by the critics, and a 1995 agreement  between the officials and the agricultural drainers to bring the trainloads of salt to a halt by no later than 1 October 2010, the State Board will consider continuing the present noncompliance until  2019.
http://www.swrcb.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/tmdl/docs/sjr_selenium/resolution092210.pdf

At the urging of the project’s water contractors, the government knowingly supplied subsidized water to irrigate valley lands without requiring the federally-mandated drainage facilities to remove toxic agricultural drainage from the fields.  In the early 1980’s the discharge of the toxic salts into the now closed “Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge”, located in the San Joaquin Valley, was the site of one of the nation’s worst government-induced wildlife crisis in history. Several studies have since been conducted and numerous band-aid “fixes” have been implemented, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. So far, the officials have failed to identify a viable cost-effective solution to the toxic agricultural drainage crisis and estimates a pilot program will cost at least $2 billion.

In 1968, the State Board adopted its Anti-Degradation Water Policy, which states in part:

“California’s anti-degradation policy is found in Resolution 68-16, “Policy with Respect to Maintaining Higher Quality Waters in California,” and Resolution 88-63, “Sources of Drinking Water  Policy.” These resolutions are part of State policy for water quality control and are binding on all State agencies. They apply to both surface waters and groundwater, and protect both existing and potential uses.”

The State Water Board and the Regional Water Boards are responsible for swift and fair enforcement when the laws and regulations protecting California's waterways are violated. The State Water Board's Office of Enforcement assists and coordinates enforcement activities statewide.

A coalition of concerned parties, including the author, will state their protest of the proposed extension of time, at the board’s meeting. The author opposed the sanctioning of dumping toxic salts into the San Joaquin River and the Bay-Delta Estuary from day one, because it was his position that the government and the dischargers would not adhere to the terms and conditions of their 1995 agreement.
Unfortunately, the record, thus far, has proven his concerns to be true.

Refer to Open Letter to the State Water Resources Control Board at www.lloydgcarter.com or you are invited to read more detailed information on related stories at www.planetarysolutionaries.org

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Patrick Porgans and author Lloyd G. Carter are involved in publishing a series of articles, entitled: “Doubts About the Drought." For more information you can Google Hay! Doubts About the Drought, or visit the following websites; http://www.planetarysolutionaries.org and http://www.lloydgcarter.com blogs.alternet.org/danbacher/.../hay-doubts-about-the-drought/?