May 5, 2010

Wasted water?

By Wasted water?

Author:  Damien M. Schiff

Today's Sacramento Bee has this article detailing the significant snow pack in the state's mountains that will allow a fairly large allocation of water to beleaguered farmers in the San Joaquin Delta (40% as opposed to 10%).

290px-Kluft-Photo-Aerial-I205-California-Aqueduct-Img_0038 The end of the article discusses the impact of the bigger snowpack, and the pumping water restrictions to the San Joaquin Valley, on the environment:

Bill Kier, a fisheries biologist who consults with salmon fishermen, said it is easy for some to complain that freshwater leaving the Delta is "wasted" by flowing to the sea. But these flows help create conditions conducive to food production, he said, which in turn could boost fish populations in future years.

That could mean one less fight in the water war.

"So it's not water wasting to the sea," he said. "It's water doing what nature intended."

It would be interesting to question Mr. Kier on what he means by his statement that allowing the melting snowpack to flow into the sea is what nature intended.  If we followed strictly what nature intended, then we'd have to uproot most of the crops and orchards throughout the entire Valley, as well as cut off most of the state's major coastal cities from their water supply.  You can't discuss "waste" and "water" without first making a judgment about what water ought to be used for; in other words, what water's highest and best use might be.  If water's best use is necessarily what it would have been "used" for without human intervention, then 99% of our current water allocation is wasting water.  That's absurd.

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