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Ray Haynes

Intractable Problems? Are We Running Out of Water?

To put this series in perspective, I started with my observations from my time in the Legislature, which, by the way, are now 16 to 29 years old. My speeches would usually start with the observation that, in California, our freeways are overcrowded, our schools are failing our children, our housing costs too much, and we are running out of gasoline, water, and electricity. You would think that, if those who are in charge in Sacramento were serious about solving these problems, they could at least fix one of them in 29 years. Yet…here we are…29 years later, with the exact same problems, the exact same complaints, and the exact same excuses for why the Democrat majority in the Legislature haven’t solved the problems.

And Californians keep electing them, despite their excuses. We do get the government we deserve, and things won’t change until we get rid of the majority, and replace them with those who have a better idea.

So, let’s talk water. California has one rainy season, usually November through March, and then seven months of almost perfect weather (if you live in San Diego, it is absolutely perfect). We just came off of a time when we had record rain in December, then record dry two months in January and February, usually our rainiest months. The challenge in California is to catch the rain when it falls, and then store it until the months when it doesn’t rain, and then transport that water from where it falls (mostly north of the delta) to where the farms and people are (mostly south of the delta). We have known about this challenge since early in the 1900’s. According to legend, Mark Twain once observed that in California “whiskey is for drinking, water is fighting over.” And we have been fighting over water for what seems like forever.

Let’s get one issue off the table. Our droughts are not caused by global warming or “climate change,” California’s water issues haven’t changed that much since 1870 (as Mark Twain’s observation demonstrates), and the weather, the rainy season, has been pretty much fixed for that entire time. I remember droughts in the mid-70’s, from 1988-92, the mid-2000’s, and the late 2010’s. It’s predictable, about every ten years or so, we are going to experience two to four years of water shortages.

Since we know that, what has the Democrat majority (a majority that has been there for all of the last 50 years, except for 2 years in 1970-72 and one year in 1996) in the Legislature done about it? Absolutely nothing.

The solutions are simple, build more storage and build a canal from just south of Sacramento to just south of Stockton, in short, more dams and the Peripheral Canal. These solutions won’t solve all the problems, we will still have droughts from time to time, but they will lessen the impact of those droughts by catching the water in times of plenty, storing it until we need it, then transporting it to the places that need it.

So why haven’t we done that? In short, really stupid environmental regulations and the environut organizations that are vested in the status quo. The Democrats in the Legislature are beholden to these groups, to the point that they have had, over the years, serious discussions about tearing down dams, instead of building them. They have consistently opposed any effort to transport water north of the delta, where the water is, to south of the delta, where most of the farms and people are. As a result, the state careens from drought to drought, and praying for enough rain to get through each year. The Democrats who control the Legislature would rather make the people of the State of California suffer with government enforced water controls and high priced water than stand up to these environut organizations.

I once carried a bill for a golf course located about one quarter mile from a sewage treatment plant. The golf course wanted to use the water from the sewage treatment plant to water their grass. Good conservation effort, right? Except that golf course was by far the largest water user in the water district in which it was located, constituting one half of the district’s income. In California, if you can find cheaper water from a nearby source that is outside the district in which you live, you have to get the water district’s consent to buy that water. In this case, the sewage treatment plant was not controlled by the water district, so the district agreed to allow the purchase, but only if the golf course reimbursed the district for its lost revenue. All of the sudden, a good idea that would have saved millions of gallons of potable water became so expensive that it didn’t make sense any more. Just another way that California discourages conservation, if the water district loses money from conservation efforts, they just use their monopoly power to increase their revenue, either through increased rates or required reimbursements.

Only one new dam in the last 50 years, laws that reward monopolistic water regulations, no efforts to get the water where it needs to go, and California citizens suffer.

It wouldn’t take much to relieve the suffering of California families from these policies that increase the price of their water, just like it wouldn’t take much to relieve the suffering that our Arrogant Lazy Authoritarian in Chief, Gavin Newsom and his minions in the Legislature inflict on California families through government laws and regulations that increase the cost of gasoline and housing, but, just like those who benefit from the regulations enforcing expensive gasoline and housing, those who benefit from the current system would lose their cushy “do-nothing” high paying jobs.

We elected those who continue to relentlessly inflict this pain and suffering on us. We deserve it as long as we put up with it.