Water Policy

NASA Report Highlights Need to Retire Drainage Impaired Land

by Dan Bacher

Alarming new space observations revealing increased rates of groundwater depletion in California highlight the urgent need to retire drainage impaired, selenium-filled farmland on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The findings, based on data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace), demonstrate that the aquifers for California's Central Valley and the Sierra Nevada have lost nearly enough water combined to fill the Colorado River's Lake Mead, America's largest reservoir, since October 2003. The observations "reflect California's extended drought and increased rates of groundwater being pumped for human uses, such as irrigation," according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Sierra Club California's 2009 Report Card Reveals Backsliding by Governor and Legislature

By Bill Magavern
Sierra Club California

Sierra Club California has published its 2009 Legislative Report Card, exposing a significant deterioration in the performance of Governor Schwarzenegger and the Legislature.

Billionaire developers and fossil-fuel polluters cynically manipulated California’s economic distress to weaken protections for our air, water, and wild places, and our elected officials too often went along.

The report card grades legislators on their votes on 15 bills, chosen for their importance to Sierra Club California. Only five legislators – Senators Corbett, Hancock and Wiggins and Assemblymembers Monning and Skinner -- voted the pro-environment position on all 15, way down from the 42 legislators who scored perfect records last year. 13 of those 15 bills reached Schwarzenegger’s desk, and he sided with the pro-environment position on only two of those.

Schwarzenegger's MLPA: Marine Life Guardians or Corporate Privateers?

By Dan Bacher

Tom Stienstra, outdoor columnist for the S.F. Chronicle, recently pointed out the absurdity of many of the people that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently appointed to the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) for the North Coast by listing the appointees and their "qualifications." 

"Sometimes people take issue with political appointments to committees charged with overseeing the state's conservation management," said Stienstra in his column on November 29. "The Department of Fish and Game provided this list of committee members who will implement the Marine Life Protection Act for the Northern California coast. 

Restore the Delta Calls Out Phony Astroturf Group

By Barbara Barrigan-Parilla
Restore the Delta

Restore the Delta (RTD) has called on "Friends of the Delta" a disingenuous Astroturf group (an organization without any real members) based out of a public relations firm in Newport Beach, CA to stop using Restore the Delta materials in information packets it distributes. 
Residents and advocates of the Delta region have a right to know when they're being hoodwinked. The use of RTD material to further a cause that is completely counter to our mission is repugnant and must stop now. With 'Friends of the Delta' like these, who needs enemies?

Water, Water, Everywhere, But Now We Stop And Think

By Sheila Kuehl

of a series of three essays describing the five separate pieces of water legislation recently passed by the California legislature and signed, in many public events, by the Governor)

Given the breathless tone of the several press reports on the "great California water reform package", you would have thought the Legislature had parted the waters, rather than simply passing five water bills. The lead-up to the passage had been long and dramatic.

The Governor, who is extremely concerned about what he calls his "legacy", that is, the fact that, so far, he doesn't really have much of one, insisted that the Legislature very quickly come up with a package of bills to reform governance over the allocation, conservation and pricing of water in the state.  

Drowning in Debt: Water Bond Broadly Opposed

By Traci Sheehan
Planning and Conservation League

Newspapers across California are advising voters that the $11.14 billion water bond that the legislature put on the ballot next November is bloated and unaffordable.

The Water Package – New Solutions, Not “Back to the Future.”

By Barry Nelson
Natural Resources Defense Council

Much of the press coverage of Governor Schwarzenegger’s bill signing press conferences have described the water package passed by the legislature last week as an “infrastructure” package, leading to the mis-impression that the purpose of this package is primarily to finish the job Governor Pat Brown started when the State Water Project was approved in 1960 -- by building more dams and a peripheral canal. That's not what this package does. We see it very differently.

California's water needs today are far different from those in 1960. In 1960, Earth Day, seen by many as the birth of the modern environmental movement, was still a decade away. 

The great water deal of 2009: Historic?


By Peter Schrag
California Progress Report

On the rare occasions when the biggest players in Sacramento blow kisses to one another for a historic achievement, the object of the celebration deserves a hard second look. It happened again last week when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, legislative leaders and a gaggle of other politicians and lobbyists reached the great water deal of 2009.  He wanted to congratulate all concerned, said the governor “for this historic accomplishment.” 

Like many other big deals in Sacramento in recent years, this one, too, was composed in large part of black boxes, deferrals, fudges and borrowing -- $11.1 billion in general obligation bonds in this case--  for large water projects, some as yet unspecified, plus a fair amount of pork having little to do with water. How many billions have we put on the credit card since 2004, when the governor declared that we’d tear it up?