So apparently the State of California has the perfect idea on how to repopulate the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced Rivers with the salmon that they say have been depleted more in those locations than anywhere else in the entire State.
And their plan, of course, involves releasing more water from reservoirs that were locally funded to ensure that farmers in the Northern San Joaquin Valley had the water necessary to serve as the lifeblood of the local economies here.
In a meeting last Friday at the Stockton Civic Auditorium, pro-farm and pro-environmental groups clashed for hours about the necessity for this project, and a few even surmised that it isn’t actually about the salmon at all – but merely an attempt to push more water out into the San Joaquin River Delta where it can be siphoned off and sent down to Los Angeles.
As a fisherman who desperately wants to be able to drive east with my son one day and be able to catch a salmon, I understand the need for conservation and making sure that the species is given the best chance at survival.
But this price just seems a little bit too steep.
If you look at the board as a whole, two of its members – the chairwoman and vice-chairwoman – are both from the Los Angeles area. Felicia Marcus, the chair, was appointed by Bill Clinton to run the Western Region of the Environmental Protection Agency, and includes on her resume some time working for the City of Los Angeles as the Director of Public Works.
The vice-chair was in an administrative position with the National Audubon Society, and the board’s civil engineer spent part of her career working for Cal/EPA.
These things can’t be a mere coincidence.
It’s a little bit disheartening that somebody from Los Angeles thinks they know better than somebody who relies on the water from the Stanislaus River for their livelihood, but apparently that’s the case here.
The reason that we’re all able to live in our suburban – or urban – houses and shop at the grocery store for what we eat is due solely to the fact that American farmers have become skilled at getting the highest crop yields on the smallest footprint of any agricultural group in the world. I’m not completely sure about the exact ratio, but the average farmer produces enough food for well over 120 people, which is the only reason we were able to move off of the farm and into the urban landscape that we all enjoy today.
So their livelihood is of chief importance to us all.
Are there farmers out there that are ripping out row crops to replace them with almonds and walnuts because the market for both has exploded in recent years? Yes. Do those crops use significantly more water than what was planted their previously? Yes. Are massive corporate farms replacing family farms and using water on an industrial scale in order to corner the market and set the price? Yes.
All of those things, which were discussed during the meeting on Friday, and I’m sure were brought up at the meetings this week in Modesto and Merced, are valid points and should be addressed. Planting water-hungry crops in the middle of a drought seems like a senseless thing to do, especially if the chief motivation in doing so is to make more money.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound like a collectivist here that wants to tell people what they can and can’t plant. But considering that it takes a gallon of water to raise a single almond, it’s something that does need to be discussed.
It should probably also be mentioned that it also takes 2,400 gallons of water to make a pound of beef, and no amount of cutting back on home irrigation will come close to the amount of water that industry uses on a daily basis.
But those examples aren’t enough to offset the nagging feeling that this isn’t about wasted water and it isn’t even about the salmon, but about making sure that the Los Angeles Basin has enough water to maintain its growth rate and keep the residents down south satisfied.
Why else would the Metropolitan Water District purchase islands in the Delta?
And why else would the board’s plan include raising the salinity level for the lower Delta other than covering them for the saltwater intrusion that will assuredly come when Governor Jerry Brown’s twin tunnel project goes through, and they siphon all of the water they’ll be releasing from the Sierra straight into the aqueduct?
I overheard a group of environmentalists at that meeting last week say, “if I wanted to hear these opinions I’d read the Manteca Bulletin.” And it made me smile.
I can only hope that they pick up the paper this morning.
Condolences to the
family of Ruben Sandoval
It was Monday night that I met Ruben Sandoval, who had just been sworn in as a Lathrop City Councilman – and learned of his impressive educational credentials.
And he didn’t even have a week to put them to use for the residents of Lathrop before passing away unexpectedly on Wednesday night.
I can’t even imagine what it’s like to lose a loved one right before the biggest family-centric holiday of the year, and I can’t help but thing of the sheer number of heavy hearts that will have him in their thoughts when they’re blessing their family meals come Sunday.
I didn’t know Mr. Sandoval before Monday night, but from what I’ve heard from people that did, Lathrop lost a titan before he got a chance to cement his legacy as a member of one of the most prolific councils that the city has ever seen.
So condolences are in store for the Sandoval family and those who knew him well. May he rest in peace.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.