Water Here, There, Nowhere!

Rex Hime
President and CEO of the California Business Properties Association

In case you haven’t been paying attention, California has just experienced one of the driest winters since we started keeping records – long before any of us were born. The environmental community and Al Gore have told us Global Warming is just around the corner and that means reduced snow pack in the Sierras – the largest part of our state water system storage.

Oh yes, we can’t forget that the endangered species act is doing what it is supposed to do and protecting the delta smelt resulting in a judge ruling that there has to be as much as a 35% reduction in the water pumped from the delta south to where the people are. 80% of the people are in southern California where only 20% of the rain falls and 20% of the folks are up north where 80% of the rain falls – and the only person in Sacramento paying attention to all of this is Governor Schwarzenegger.

Last year, he proposed a comprehensive fix to the water problem in California. Fixing the Delta, a peripheral  canal, with more storage facilities and efforts to promote conservation and reuse. The Governor was joined in the battle by the Republican leaders, Cogdill in the Senate and Villines in the Assembly.

More recently a group of Latino legislators and Senator Diane Feinstein have called for a responsible comprehensive solution to the water crisis facing our state. And the response has been a chorus of opposition from the rest of the majority party – some say no to a delta fix, some say no to more water storage and thus a no overall!  And although there is a solution sitting in the Capitol today, it isn’t moving – it isn’t being debated and those who would vote for it are not being given that opportunity.

If Californians really understood how perilous our water future was, they would be storming Sacramento like a scene out of Frankenstein with pitchforks and torches. We need action now – water responses can’t be implemented overnight. If we had a larger shortage or if the delta was damaged by an earthquake, or if another judge rules for another fish, the impact on the south would be unmistakable — dead crops, toilets not being flushed, mandatory showers with the neighbors, business closed, jobs lost. It would make the current increases in gas costs look tame.

A coalition of labor, business and agriculture, responsible environmental groups and water agencies have been working on a solution, and they are going to continue to push the agenda forward until the Governor and others have been joined by enough thoughtful legislators to place a measure before the voters in California to fix our water problem for generations to come.

Watch for this hot topic to continue to be debated and those who are calling for action are not all wet!!!!

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