Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Water For Tomorrow

Today, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s declared a State of Emergency for the state’s dwindling water supply.

He's also called for Californians to cut back on the water they use. Right now, the California Legislature works to advance SB 2175 (Laird and Feuer), a Sierra Club California priority bill that would cut water use by 20 percent across the state via conservation.

But building more dams – the other part of his proposed solution– isn’t the most cost-effective, sustainable way to address the state’s shrunken snowpack and dwindling runoff reserves. And it's not the best way to make sure there's enough water for future generations.

We don’t even know exactly how much the dams the governor wants to build will cost, how much water they will produce, who will receive and pay for the water and how they will affect our environment.

Governor Schwarzenegger said he wants to revive last year’s water bond proposal, which focuses on expensive water projects that would serve agribusiness and accommodate big growth in the Central Valley. Since the multi-million-dollar studies of the proposed dams aren’t done yet, Californians can’t be sure whether the multi-billion-dollar dams will safely serve California’s communities without harming our precious natural heritage.

Conservation is still the cheapest, most certain water supply available to California.

We must focus state money on forward-thinking water conservation programs, water recycling and cleanup of polluted underground stores. The state also must adopt a holistic, long-term strategy for protecting the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta before making major investments there or for new dams upstream of the Delta.

The governor has said he doesn’t want to make water into a political issue, and neither do we. We can address the state’s water shortage with low-cost, smart solutions available to us right now.

We need to embrace tomorrow’s solutions, instead of building yesterday’s monoliths.

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