Sierra Club says state’s water policies are contradictory

SACRAMENTO
February 10, 2017 10:54am
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•  Points to calls for conservation while governor urges Trump to loan money for water tunnels

•  “The contradiction in these approaches is mind-boggling”


California’s water management is so contradictory it’s head-scratching for those trying to make sense of it, contends the Sierra Club, which watches water in California as closely as anyone.

The State Water Resources Control Board voted thus week to continue to keep water conservation rules in place that have helped the state cope with the drought. They also decided to continue to hold hearings to find ways to fulfill the human right to water.

That’s fine with the Sierra Club. It says urban water conservation remains the most cost-effective source of new water, and Californians have reduced water used compared to the previous two years.

Meanwhile, Gov. Edmund Gerald Brown Jr.’s administration has released a list of infrastructure projects it would like the Trump Administration to help pay for.

The most prominent?

The top listed water project is a loan to begin construction of the governor’s twin Delta water tunnels project.

This project, with its projected $60 billion plus price tag, would wed Californians to continuing to depend on exporting water from the Delta, instead of working on sustainable, long-term solutions, says Kathryn Phillips, director of Sierra Club California:

“The Water Board’s decisions to continue the conservation regulations, and also to continue looking for ways to help all Californians have water are positive actions,” she says. “At the same time, the governor is asking for federal help from an administration hostile to environmental protection for his tunnels. And the tunnels will tie the state further to water policies that are not sustainable, especially in a climate-changed world.

“The contradiction in these approaches is mind-boggling.”

If built, the two 35-mile long tunnels would be an underground version of Mr. Brown’s ill-fated Peripheral Canal project, rejected by voters in 1982.

The tunnels, however, would not see a vote by the people. Instead, to pay off the $60 billion-plus water districts could simply increase rates for businesses, farms and consumers.


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