It has been a long time since I have posted something here. There are two main reasons First, it is not a trivial task to understand what is happening with the delta, what is not happening with water management in California. It takes time, generally more time than any one person should be expected to expend on the issue.
However, I think that I have begun to understand some of it and want to pass that along to any reader who might chance this way. So, here is an index to what I am working on.
- Just who are the players? There are a plethora of state and federal agencies, non-profit environmental groups, sports associations, community groups and industry advocates, each with a point of view and each with pre-conceived ideas about what the solution should be. Since they all use acronyms when talking to each other, you have to learn the language.
- Why is so much being made about such a tiny fish? The plight of the tiny delta smelt has become so bad as to be considered endangered. Based on this, a superior court judge in CA ordered that the pumps in Tracy be shut down. Before the appeal on this was heard, the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the California State Agency responsible for water management, shut them down for a few days and then restarted them at 10% of capacity. But why is that one fish so important?
- What can individuals do in a situation where they have no visible power? In general, all of these discussions are taking place among professionals with differing objectives. Water Districts are deemed to represent the public, but in fact almost never solicit public input. So, where can we, the public, find a leverage point and how do we use it?
- What are the issues that no one is voicing? Most of the media focuses on the immediate story. The pumps shut down. That was a story. It has immediacy and impact. The delta is sick. That is not a story. They think it too complicated for a public to understand and there are no whale fluke slapping photos to attract our attention. Delta smelt may only be 20mm long. So, they dish out yet another Paris Hilton.