Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Smelt Dealt: Greenies Gut Water Supply

The Fresno courtroom was packed to the gills yesterday, with people even sitting in the jury box to hear U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger's decision regarding a three-inch fish's impact on a thirsty state. If it's drama they want, the Delta smelt ruling didn't disappoint.

In a conclusion that was pretty much foregone due to the inflexibility of the Endangered Species Act, Wangler ordered pumping of San Joaquin Delta water cut by as much as 37 percent from December through June.

The two sides -- Greenie fanatics and sober ag and urban water providers -- now are supposed to sit down and agree to a plan to implement the ruling. If they can't work together, Wanger will write the plan himself, placing an unelected judge in solo control of most of California's water supply.

Greenies, as is their wont, after chanting "Doom, doom!" for years, demanding that draconian measures are necessary to save a critter, are downplaying the ruling's negative effect now that their scare-mongering has helped bring them victory. For example, attorney Kate Poole (an ironic name, given the effect of the ruling on water supply) was already dismissing any projections of big negative impacts:
Poole, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, questioned the officials' numbers. "I don't think they can say that," she said. "I don't think anybody has yet figured out how much delivery reduction this would cause." (LA Times)
Well, Katie girl, if you shut down the pumps 37 percent of the time during the spring and winter -- in other words, the only time when there's a lot of water to pump -- you are going to have a profound, pooch-screwing impact. You and your Greenie attorney comrades made the bed, Katie, now fess up and sleep in it.

Here's how Tim Quinn of the Association of Cal Water Agencies described the impact of Wangler's ruling:
A sober assessment of this says it's a very large deal. We are not only losing supply here, you are greatly compromising the tools we have developed to deal with water shortages. (Fresno Bee)
What Quinn means is this: During the winter and spring, ag and urban water districts pump their reservoirs full with snowmelt water that is flooding into the Delta -- what used to be called surplus water, but is now called water for endangered species. If we can't fill our reservoirs during the rainy and snowmelt months, our reservoirs will not be able to provide the supplies needed to get us through the dry months.

There's a beneficial result of all this: more conservation. I'm a fan of conservation. But we represent some water districts and I can tell you that conservation is already taking hold big-time without Greenies forcing it down our throat.

Greenies will counter that the fish had to be saved. Bogus argument. If they were truly more about the Delta smelt than they are about water policy, they would have not pursued this through Endangered Species Act litigation, but by a holistic effort that looked at seawater intrusion, the introduction of non-native species, chemical pollution and pump activity.

By focusing on the pumps and using the inflexible Endangered Species Act as their sledge hammer, their agenda is clear: Writing new policy through the courts for California's ag industry and the residents of Southern California. But if you write broad policy based on narrow objectives, as worthy as the objective of protecting the Delta smelt may be, it will necessarily be bad policy.

And as California's drought continues, the timing couldn't be worse.

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