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Newsom’s water plan previews a future Calif. that ignores history – at its peril

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom released the final version of the state’s Water Resilience Portfolio. State agencies such as the Natural Resource Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and California Department of Food and Agriculture have gone through the daunting task of assembling an extensive, multi-faceted water plan for the future of California.  

It lays out general plans and a path forward on topics such as safer drinking water, groundwater recharge, healthy habitats, fish and environmental restoration, wastewater, storm-water, pollution, sea level rise, changing water quality standards, voluntary agreements, and more.

If implemented, California will look a lot different than it does today.

Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio is a controlling mechanism to cover-up past agenda-driven failures and ensure zero accountability on many fronts going forward.

But, it’s worse than that.

The Water Resilience Portfolio has a few themes running throughout its twenty-eight main pages followed by over one-hundred pages of appendices and attachments.

First, everything will be driven by climate change.  

Second, buckle-up for impending disaster – it’s a recurring theme throughout the document.

Third, forget history. Everything will be managed on predictions and forecasts and historical data will no longer be used.

Next, surface water will be used for two things only: groundwater recharge and environmental purposes.

And lastly, the combination of climate change and the threats of high catastrophic probability will be used to accomplish exactly what to do with your water, your land, and you.

Within the Portfolio, you will read that “global climate change, already altering our water resources in alarming ways, likely will escalate over time.”

Our water resources have been altered and it is alarming. But it was not accomplished via global climate change. Instead, it has been a man-made effort creating droughts by design.

Global climate change did not redirect the flow of water from the Delta to the Pacific Ocean.

It was not climate change that produced the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, failed Biological Opinions, or set forth on the most radical interpretation of the Endangered species Act for over a decade. 

Was it too soon for climate change to rupture the spillway at Oroville?

Is it climate change that drives the obsession to halt progress by groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, or the Bay Institute?

Nope, it’s just agenda-driven people.

“Simply put, agricultural production will be shaped by limits on available water supply.” 

Of course, this is true.

State lawmakers – backed by those same agenda-driven people – have long succeeded at hindering agriculture production that coincides with the transfer of surface water. 

The human necessity of food is apparently not a priority and every drop of surface water will be managed by flows needed for the environment.

“Historical patterns can no longer serve water managers as a trustworthy guide around which to plan, so climate science and projections have become increasingly important.”

This is – in no uncertain terms – wiping clean the historical slate, coming to a water forum near you!

By their own logic, the arguments of California leaders and environmental groups of the past decade should, too, be considered irrelevant.  

All lawsuits by the State of California against the federal government should be withdrawn at once since they are based on historical “versions” of their data.

We should expect the constant attempt to adhere to failed science be abandoned immediately if we are to no longer use historical information.

Elsewhere within the Water Portfolio, there calls for an effort and support to recycle or reuse 2.5 million acre-feet of water per year in the next decade.

Apparently, we have come a long way. It took California around 25 years to systematically transfer 2.5 million acre-feet of water last time – from people to the ocean.

We will research where desalination makes sense, meaning  water transferred to become salt water in the Pacific Ocean will now be returned at a multi-billion-dollar price tag to remove the salt.

Again, this transfer was done by people, not global climate change.

Throughout the Portfolio is a constant reference to possible floods and flood protection.

With the prediction of more rain and less snow, possible future floods becomes a likely topic.

Flood protection becomes a complicated topic with the understanding that dams are a thing of the past. Mitigation and preparedness for what Mother Nature will “likely” hand us because of climate change will be more about land use changes than it will additional infrastructure.  

Farmland, once appreciated for the most productive land in America that fed a nation, will see its top priorities shifted to sequester carbon, become a place for birds to land, fish to swim, and a place to recharge aquifers.

We will be convinced over time through “science” and a political agenda that these benefits far outweigh the benefit of growing food.

Your property rights and freedom will be trampled in the name of public safety and a changing climate.

Current leadership in California claiming an appreciation for collaboration and science-based management is laughable. They have chosen to not collaborate or utilize updated science, consistently.

Instead, they have chosen litigation while hypocrisy rules the day.

Newsom’s Water Portfolio calls for a review of state, Federal, and local permitting processes in order to improve those processes.

On June 1, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued the final rule to modernize the current Clean Water Act following an executive order from President Trump.

Leading the charge with yet another lawsuit, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra decried the move as so-called “Trump rollbacks.”

It appears an uncontested improvement of bureaucracy as it pertains to water is apparently only reserved for Newsom.

While Newsom and Becerra claim the Federal government’s efforts to update processes were not transparent, it’s important to note just how vastly different the process looks.

Newsom’s Water Portfolio received 200 public comments. Trump’s? 125,000.

At its core, the Water Resilience Portfolio is a manifesto of the future of water in California. 

It’s a future that diminishes or eliminates the personal right to water and transfers it to the public right for water, prioritizes the environment above humans on the hierarchy of living things, driven by uncertainty and the presence of fear with no accountability.  

We will see a future of people being sequestered into pre-planned, pre-ordained locales with micromanaged uses of natural resources, eating pre-planned rations of food while their formerly-owned land is being used for pre-planned public purposes.

These aren’t “likely” predictions of the future but are likely because of historical fact.

An elected official who is willing to decide your menu items will have no problem deciding the use of your water and land.

Wayne Western, Jr.
Wayne Western, Jr. the The Sun’s Agriculture Pulse contributor, writing on the San Joaquin Valley’s agricultural community and water issues.