Nelson, Barry


Barry Nelson is a Senior Water Policy Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Large-Scale Water Pipeline Trend Threatens Western Water Supplies and Rates

By Barry Nelson
Natural Resources Defense Council

Western water landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. However, a growing trend toward large-scale water pipeline projects proposed by federal, state and local water agencies in the West could lead to water shortages and increased costs for the very communities that would pay for these expensive facilities, according to a report released today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Path to Success in the Bay-Delta

By Barry Nelson
Natural Resources Defense Council

In his State of the State address, Governor Brown emphasized his commitment to developing a visionary Bay-Delta plan that will restore the estuary and its fish, and ensure a reliable water supply.  Developing this plan will require hard work, but it can be done. The Bay Area has a great deal at stake. The Bay-Delta is the defining feature of our region.  It provides a cornucopia of recreational opportunities and is a major reason why people choose to live here.  But this ecosystem is in trouble, as shown by the plight of Chinook salmon.  

The San Joaquin River Agreement and H.R. 1837 - A Deal is a Deal

By Barry Nelson
Natural Resources Defense Council

Next Thursday, the House of Representatives Water and Power Subcommittee will hold a hearing on perhaps the most radical bill on California water issues I’ve encountered in my career.  H.R. 1837, introduced by Congressman Devin Nunes (R, Visalia), would roll back federal protections for the San Francisco Bay-Delta, its tributaries and its fisheries.  It would pre-empt state water laws, overturn state water rights and undermine efforts to find solutions to the many challenges facing the Bay-Delta. One of its many remarkable provisions would overturn the consensus agreement to restore the San Joaquin River.

The agreement to restore the San Joaquin was an historic moment in California water policy. After years of divisive litigation, all of the parties to the suit reached an agreement to restore flows and salmon to the parched river.  That settlement contained carefully balanced provisions to make it acceptable to all sides.

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.