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Guest Editorial by Dan Bacher of the FishSniffer

Schwarzenegger and Feinstein Ally to Build Dams, Canal

July 10, 2008. In the latest front in the California water wars, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator Dianne Feinstein announced a "compromise" $9.3 billion water bond proposal that will soak the taxpayers with huge debt payments for decades to come. If implemented, this plan will further devastate already collapsing Central Valley and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fisheries.

While the Governor and Senator gush about "water reliability" and "ecosystem protection," the real agenda of Schwarzenegger and Feinstein appears to be the building of dams and the peripheral canal. This water bond proposal calls for "increased water storage to ensure our water supply is more reliable year-to-year and we’re able to capture excess water in wet years to use in dry years" and "improved water conveyance to reduce water shortages" - a euphemism for the peripheral canal.

This proposal will do nothing to help the unprecedented collapse of Central Valley chinook salmon, delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, green sturgeon and other fish populations. By providing the infrastructure to divert more water through the Delta and building more "water storage" facilities, it will only make a catastrophic situation for California fisheries even worse, since increased water exports in recent years are the key factor behind the fishery disasters. All of the wonky "consensus" style eco-babble of Schwarzenegger and Feinstein fails to acknowledge the simple fact that fish need water!

"The goal of this plan is to break the long-standing stalemate over water,” Senator Feinstein said, evoking the failed "can't we all come together" pseudo-consensus language that her and Schwarzenegger revel in.

“California is facing an unprecedented water crisis," she continued. "The combination of drought, court ordered water restrictions, global warming, and an increasing population has placed a major strain on the existing infrastructure. We need to prepare now for the future. This language is comprehensive, balanced and could help increase water supplies to meet the needs of the environment, our cities, and agriculture. I hope that all sides can come together around a consensus plan that can be approved this November.”

“There is an urgent need for comprehensive water reform, and this bipartisan plan is offered as a potential compromise that puts us on the path toward restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, expanding water supplies and promoting conversation efforts that will ensure a clean, reliable water supply for California,” Governor Schwarzenegger said.

I'm not sure whether Schwarzenegger meant "conservation" rather than "conversation," in his quote (a Freudian slip, maybe), but this proposal does nothing to further real water conservation. It appears to be just another version of the Governor and Feinstein's earlier, outdated proposals to bail out corporate agribusiness, construct more dams and build the canal.

Everybody who cares about the future of the California Delta, West Coast fisheries and California water supplies should oppose this proposal. Write, call or visit your Legislators today and phone or write Governor and Dianne Feinstein about your strong opposition to this plan!