Tuesday, May 8, 2007

California Streaming - Water Policy Changes

Drought and flooding, as the potential extremes of climate change, have long been threats to California - a state whose very financial existence depends on moving water from its natural locations to the dry valley farmlands and concentrated population centers that otherwise would be semi-arid deserts. How are the needs of farmers, environmentalists, municipal utility districts and fishing industries served from natural water supplies that may become even more limited? People fight in the courts, congress and state legislatures over water rights and it's a rare occasion when opponents reach agreement over how limited water will be distributed.

Now environmentalists and local politicians have reached what amounts to a treaty over water distribution in the Sacramento Delta and it may serve as a useful model as climate change forces water crises elsewhere in the US.

The SF Chronicle article is headlined Big, New Water Project Under Way: Diversion to Supply Sacramento Area and the East Bay and its lede is

Government officials and environmentalists broke ground Monday on a new Sacramento River water diversion system, deeming it a historic project that sets a precedent for state water distribution in an era of global warming and drought.

As with most of these tugs of war, it's a complex issue, not easily explained in the space of one article, but the important part for environmental concerns in future similar situations is this:
...the project accomplishes two main goals of the environmental community: protection of the lower American River and the promotion of water conservation and wastewater recycling.

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