U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein is running for re-election this year against mostly unknown Republican opponents. As McClatchy News reported on March 27th, “running for re-election this year, the 78-year-old Feinstein hasn’t yet broken a sweat against unknown and underfunded Republican opponents.” Nevertheless, there are opponents and as information becomes available on their views concerning water policy we will pass the information along.
EMKEN CAMPAIGN POLICY PAPER ON WATER
Elizabeth Emken, US Senate Candidate
California has an abundance of man-made problems: skyrocketing debt, crumbling infrastructure, and a dysfunctional state government, just to name a few. Yet for all the consternation over our self-inflicted wounds, the Golden State has yet to successfully confront a natural disaster that could potentially be its most devastating problem—the issue of water and our inability to produce a workable solution to controlling our most precious resource.
State leaders continue to grapple with the after-effects of one of the biggest water crises this nation has ever seen. Fishermen and farmers, businesses and communities have been locked in a battle over water supply. The arguments over storage, conservation, and distribution threaten to drown out the voices of reason who are working to adapt our water management system to effectively meet 21st century needs.
Simply put, the problem with California’s water lies with our ideology, not our geology.
Drought has been as constant a condition in California as nature can provide. In the last 100 years, our state has experienced nine periods of drought where there were two or more dry years in succession, occurring on the average every nine years. We need to base our water planning on how to get through a drought.
California water rights law only allows new facilities to store surplus water not needed to meet preexisting rights, therefore we need to expand our water system through new storage, increased conservation, recycling, conjunctive management of groundwater, and improved facilities for moving water. Nothing beats a drought like having saved and stored water before it happens.
Water storage and delivery, however, have been substantially impacted by a regulatory culture that disregards the importance of the water supply on everything from employment to housing. Our over-zealous regulatory culture is crushing business, killing jobs and putting families at risk of losing their homes.
For example, in 1978 the US Supreme Court decided that the federal Endangered Species Act required that endangered species be protected at “whatever the costs.” Following this precedent, two recent federal decisions have led to the water pumps in the southern delta being shut off at times that are critical to the growing season for farmers, severely impacting families and their livelihoods, and driving unemployment up to nearly 20%.
“Whatever the costs” completely ignores the human toll, and completely shuts down common sense compromise. What’s the cost to California’s farming industry? Farmers here in the Central Valley are the hardest hit, with lawsuits and punitive regulations doing the most damage. The Delta smelt controversy alone has had an average near term economic effect of more than $500 million annually, and can exceed $3 billion in a prolonged drought. These losses directly impact and worsen the unemployment crisis in the Central Valley.
By the year 2020, California’s population will reach 44 million. This increase, together with all the other demands on our water supply, will result in water shortages even in years with average precipitation and severe water shortages in drought years.
Making matters worse, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the major water source for two-thirds of the state, is increasingly strained with its fragile levies, unreliable water quality, and an over-zealous regulatory burden. Our statewide water storage and delivery system has not been significantly improved in 30 years…
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