Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Water Wednesday | #4 Water Politics

Add During the 2009 drought, a well-known billboard marquee in San Francisco's Tenderloin displays a quote, supposedly from former governor Gray Davis to then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. June 7, 2009.
John Wayne supposedly once quipped "Whiskey is for drinking.  Water is for fighting over".  The underlying truth of the statement is difficult to dissprove - namely, that water is a contentious issue in the West that can make and break the careers of not just farmers and ranchers, but politicians as well.

Politics being largely a game of opportunism, it is not surprising that drought leads to increased spending on water infrastructure, despite the expensive and over-wrought storage and delivery systems that are currently in place.  In wet years, political forces respond to demands from agricultural and environmental pressure for guaranteed increases in water deliveries. 

All of this short-sightedness ignores the need for long-term planning, and obfuscates the implementation of technology and policy to increase efficiency and smart conservation.  The current proposal to drill tunnels underneath the San Francisco Bay Delta is a perfect example of this.  Although the plan would potentially solve some issues involving water delivery south of the Delta, it is impossible to know the full environmental impact.  Worst of all, the tunnel plan does nothing to address the fundamental problem: increasing demands on a decreasing resource.  Let's here some politicians address a 20 year plan that solves the real problem. 

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