Salinity levels at Vernalis south of Manteca would not be so high if the Hypocrites-by-the Bay in the Green Environmental Perfection movement did their fair share to protect fish.
Since the 1920s the City of San Francisco and cities they supply with water around the Bay Area have been depriving fish of water. Meanwhile they brag about their pristine drinking water while lecturing everyone else from Los Angeles residents to San Joaquin Valley farmers about how they are hurting fish for their own needs.
Not one ounce of some 220 million gallons of Tuolumne River water that the Bay Area consumes on a daily basis ever flows into the San Joaquin River and the Delta.
Instead it goes into the original tunnel bypassing the Delta — the Hetch Hetchy pipeline — that passes under Modesto, across the valley and into the Bay Area.
That means when green movement groups in the Bay Area litigate for more water for fish it never impacts the water flowing from their faucets, filling their swimming pools or watering their lawns.
They could easily join the rest of us including Los Angeles and do their fair share of helping fish by releasing their drinking water directly into the Tuolumne from O’Shaughnessy Dam that flooded the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park and let it flow into the San Joaquin River and into the Delta to help fish. They could then take the water out of the Delta and pipe it to their treatment plants.
Rather than do the right thing that they demand of everyone else, the Hypocrites-by-the-Bay instead are launching a full-scale attack on farmers.
They contend farmers aren’t doing their part in cutting back water use and are therefore hurting fish. Funny but in 2014 when Bay Area dot.com millionaires had their household staffs washing down driveways and hand washing their $120,000 Teslas while pocketing tax credits, farmers in the San Joaquin Valley were ripping out orchards and leaving fields fallow while putting more people out of work because they didn’t receive any water to grow crops.
Yes, the people of the Bay Area are absolutely brilliant. That said let’s see them survive eating apples grown in Cupertino as opposed to apples grown in San Joaquin County or perhaps eating Chipolte burritos produced using 3D printers.
Agriculture contrary to the myth passed on by the Hypocrites-by-the-Bay, isn’t currently consuming 80 percent of all developed surface water in California.
A University of California Davis study done by Blaine Hanson on the Irrigation of Agricultural Crops in California indicates in a dry year with cutback deliveries from the State Water Project and Central Valley Project agriculture uses 52 percent of the total water supply, down from 80 percent in a normal year. In a wet year, farming gets 29 percent of the water.
Meanwhile, urban use stays at 10.9 percent. And guess what isn’t cutback in a dry year? Flows into the Delta and out to the ocean are by comparison untouched even though Mother Nature would have virtually eliminated them by now if she was left to her own devices.
California grows roughly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts harvested in the United States. Farmers in this state feed a lot of people. An Apple Watch is a want while food is a basic need.
But even putting aside the most basic argument defending agricultural use of water, there’s the little detail of what Mother Nature would do with fish and river flows if left on her own.
Had dams not been put in place we would not have been able to build three massive metropolitan areas on the arid coast centered around San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego over the last 160 years. Nor would the San Joaquin Valley been turned into the most productive farm region in the world.
And fish would not have fared as well as they have.
Without New Melones along with Beardsley and Donnells holding carryover snowpack runoff from previous years there would not have been a minimum of 200 cubic feet per second flowing in the Stanislaus River last summer and fall. While the Hypocrites-by-the-Bay contend that is anemic its downright robust compared to the flow that would have been on the Stanislaus River in October of last year during the Chinook Salmon migration hadn’t it been for the dams. The odds are it wouldn’t even have been a trickle at Ripon and would likely have been so dry near the confluence with the San Joaquin River that winds would have whipped up dust storms from the dried out bottom silt.
We must protect the environment and fish. No reasonable person would debate that point. But we’ve also got to grow food and make sure toilets flush.
In reality, since the last major drought in 1976-77 both urban users and farmers have drastically reduced water consumption. Los Angeles in 1977 used more water per capita than most folks living in the north state now has a per capita water consumption 10 percent lower than Manteca and just over half of what each Ripon resident uses.
There’s a lot of ways we can cut water use with most based on coming to the realization that we have always lived in an arid state.
But pushing an agenda that wants to hurt agriculture even further because it takes significant water to grow our food is akin to amputating your legs and arms because your pinky is bleeding.
It is a surefire way to kill yourself..