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Making 209 residents pay $11,695,376 per salmon while fueling LA growth
Dennis Wyatt
Dennis Wyatt

We are all one California.

Before we get all teary-eyed about that sentiment know that it has been voiced by backers of the State Water Resources Control Board advancing state water policies that largely hinge on commandeering out-of-watershed water to keep powering Los Angeles’ unnatural expansion growing.

This time around they are working to swoop in and add the pillaging of the San Joaquin Valley to the Owens Valley-style graveyards created so La-La Land can prosper.

It is time we talk about the original sin.

It is an important conversation to have given how Los Angeles politicians and pundits are smooching up with the Death Star wing of the hard-core environmentalist movement to add a few more fish on the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers while supposedly helping Delta salinity.

The salinity improvement under the plan to dump 360,000 more acre feet of water down the three rivers between February and June is real rich given that in normal water years that is not the time period when salinity is a concern.

 During normal water years the water plan— based on data provided by the state itself— would cost the three counties of the Northern San Joaquin Valley (San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced) — an annual economic loss of $12.9 billion, cost 4,000 people their jobs, and force increased groundwater pumping of 1.57 million acre feet annually by cities and farmers. Since the unimpaired water flow analysis was made, the state has set in place a new mandate that essentially will not allow more groundwater pumping in a given year than is replaced in an aquifer. That would mean up to 132,000 acre in the nation’s most fertile agriculture valley would be fallow while cities in the 209 region would face significant cutbacks in surface water supplies.

The impacts on the Northern San Joaquin Valley would increase significantly in a drought.

Based on historic hydrology on the Stanislaus River Basin, New Melones Reservoir — the state’s fourth largest at 2.4 million acre feet of water — could go dry 12 times every 95 years.

And what will California get for what the state essentially describes as an economic Armageddon for the Northern San Joaquin Valley? The state expects it will result in 1,103 more salmon combined annually on the three rivers. That translates into a price (based on economic loss) of $11,695,376.24 per additional salmon and exchanges 3.6 jobs for each new salmon.

That brings us to the original sin and how the water masters of the Los Angeles Basin populated with more than 10 million people work feverishly to guilt the rest of California to giving up water.

They like pushing the sentiment that we are all Californians. You won’t get an argument from this corner about that being true unless you are doing what the defenders of LA water colonialism are and twisting its meaning to argue the Northern San Joaquin Valley needs to willingly commit economic suicide as well as sacrifice the regional environment made possible today by how water has been managed and released for more than 100 years.

We are told it’s all about expanding native salmon and steelhead. Here’s a reality check. Salmon and steelhead are faring much better on the Stanislaus than they are on the Los Angeles River where — just like the Stanislaus — they can be legitimately be called a native species.

A funny thing happened to the Los Angeles River as boosters of LA growth took water from elsewhere in California to grow beyond the LA Basin’s natural water sources from the Los Angeles and San Gabriel rivers. The salmon and steelhead were wiped out and the LA River was turned into a concrete lined storm drain. Los Angeles, according to a 1916 LA Department of Water & Power report, can only support 500,000 people if it relied on the two rivers and groundwater. The City of Los Angeles has 4.03 million people.

Cities and what farming remains in the LA Basin are not supported by its own watershed. That’s not the case in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.

Lecturing Northern San Joaquin Valley on its development patterns, farming and track record of protecting the environment is akin to the Cincinnati Bengals lecturing the San Francisco 49ers about how to win in the NFL.

When it comes to water the words LA boosters speak are about as deep as a Tweet.