html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: I guess a generation is long enough.

Friday, June 15, 2007

I guess a generation is long enough.

Wow. Governor Schwarzenegger called for a Peripheral Canal. We don't call it that anymore, since that lost resoundingly in a 1982 California referendum. It was unmentionable for twenty years. Now, though, the Delta is so conspicuously broken that something must be done. I'm not opposed to separating the functions of Delta ecosystem and water conveyance. Trying to tweak the Delta to do both hasn't worked; the function that suffered was the ecosystem.

I've written before that my boss says that through-Delta conveyance is a technical problem and a governance problem. A Peripheral Canal is only a governance problem. (Northern Californians believe that with the capacity to move huge amounts of water through a Peripheral Canal, there's nothing to stop Southern California from taking it. At least the through-Delta conveyance posed physical limits on how much water could be moved south.) But in an year where DVVR is getting held to the requirements of the California Endangered Species Act, I believe an enforceable governance mechanism could be worked out for operation of a Peripheral Canal. I don't see how it could be worse than what we have now.

Here you go, Colin: My introduction to the Delta.


Blogger Colin said...

I'm not sure I understand any of this. At first I thought "conveyance" meant shipping, and couldn't see why that would be a technical problem. But it appears maybe it actually means delivery of water, in which case this canal is not a canal for shipping, but an aqueduct. Is "SoCal might steal all our water" the principal objection?

Do you have a previous post that explains what exactly it means when you say "the Delta is broken", and what this canal might have to do with it? I've seen posts where you allude to problems with endangered species and "Take Permits", but I don't think I really understand the problem at all. Is there not enough water in the Sacramento River? How would a canal help that?

11:45 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Oh Colin. What you're starting...

Yeah. I think I've written up some Delta stuff. I could round that up.

1:12 PM  
Blogger harryh said...

Have you seen this?

Billl Richardson would, if elected President (admittedly a longshot), create a new cabinet position: The Secretary of Water.

1:16 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Yeah, he's done a fair amount of resources work before. So he'd know how important it is. I'm not sure how that would overlap with USBR and Fish and Wildlife.

1:20 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

I don't get how the peripheral canal wouldn't be a technical problem. Wouldn't the ecosystem be drastically changed between where the peripheral canal takes off of the sac river and where the pumps currently are in the delta? Wouldn't the salinity in the reach be affected?

3:43 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Well, there's the salt gates. But I think Delta natives want fluctuating salinity and brackish water. That's my first guess, not anything I'm very sure of.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang. I missed my chance to say "Don't ask me to explain California water issues to you" and then step in front of Colin, excluding him from the circle.


9:00 PM  
Blogger Megan said...


You can't trust anyone on the internet.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

You misspelled Schwarzenegger! I'm going to ask him not to sign your paycheck this week.

I was going to tell you last time I saw you that I drove through some of the canal and reservoir system back in April on a trip, and boy was it physically impressive. Like the great public works of old...the Pyramids or the Roman roads and aqueducts. But no one needs to tell you that. Someone ought to start up a service offering tours, you could feed them lots of business from this blog.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Wesley said...

The Peripheral Canal lost 38-62 in 1982, with no county above Kern voting for it.

While Southern California has increased its share of CA's population since then, many of them are non-voting Latinos.

A new peripheral canal would need the support of the Central Valley. Combined with Southern Cal, that might be enough, in either the legislature or with the voters.

I'm not sure what it would take to bring the Central Valley on board. More water storage? Guaranteed water?

1:39 AM  
Blogger Colin said...

Ah, thanks. I know I've seen fear of "California will steal all our water" from as far north as British Columbia, so that kind of makes sense. (Can't find a link to it at the moment, but the plan involved water tankers.)

6:49 AM  
Anonymous robd said...

Hai Megan,
I am a reader of your blog in the Netherlands
and last week I heard here that Haskoning, an engineering firm here, has a contract for advising on flood control in the valley.
Are you involved in that in any way?

10:22 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Hey Rob D,

Nope. I'm not actually in Flood. I just think things about it.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous robd said...

You probalby live at a higher level than me anyway.....

11:48 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Twelve feet above sea level, baby.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous robd said...

Nice. I'm about six feet under.....

1:30 PM  
Blogger xjerryx said...

The King Of California by Mark Arax and Rick Wartzman describes the political fight of the peripheral canal pretty well, at least for a non-engineer like me. Good book, describing the death of Tule Lake and the lower Kings River.

4:51 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Yes! That's a great book.

4:55 PM  

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