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Surprise: DWR Promotes Peripheral Canal As Snow Survey Results Announced


by Dan Bacher

January 30, 2010 -- The water content in California's mountain snowpack is 115 percent of normal for the date statewide, contrasting with snow water content only 61 percent of normal last year at the same time, according to the snow survey conducted Friday by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).
Electronic sensor readings show northern Sierra snow water equivalents at 129 percent of normal for this date, central Sierra at 101 percent, and southern Sierra at 119 percent. The sensor readings are posted at http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/snow/DLYSWEQ.
You would think that the Schwarzenegger administration would be happy with this news, but DWR used the release of the data to perpetuate the myth that California is still in a "big drought" and to campaign for the construction of the peripheral canal and new dams.
Today's snow survey offers us some cautious optimism as we continue to play catch-up with our statewide water supplies, claimed DWR chief deputy director Sue Sims. We are still looking at the real possibility of a fourth dry year. Even if California is blessed with a healthy snowpack, we must learn to always conserve this finite resource so that we have enough water for homes, farms, and businesses in 2010 and in the future.
Sims noted that Lake Oroville, the principal storage reservoir for the State Water Project (SWP) is at 33 percent of capacity, and 50 percent of average storage for this time of year. Lake Shasta, the principal storage reservoir for the federal Central Valley Project, is at 56 percent of capacity, and 82 percent of average for the date.
Sims failed to note that the reason why the reservoirs were so low is because they were drained to provide subsidized water to corporate agribusiness, supply the Kern County Water Bank and fill Southern California reservoirs.
"DWRs early allocation estimate was that the agency would only be able to deliver 5 percent of requested SWP water this year, reflecting low storage levels, ongoing drought conditions, and environmental restrictions on water deliveries to protect fish species," according to the DWR news release. "The agency will recalculate the allocation after current snow survey results and other conditions are evaluated."
DWR tried to blame the "lack of water" on protections for Delta smelt and Central Valley salmon, rather than the real reason - rampant mismanagement of California water by the state and federal governments. Agribusiness giants such as Stewart Resnick, owner of Paramount Farms and Fiji Water, have made millions of dollars in profits off the marketing of subsidized water in recent years under the current "management" scheme.
"DWR estimates that fishery agency restrictions on Delta pumping adopted in the past year to protect Delta smelt, salmon, and other species could reduce annual deliveries of State Water Project water by 30 percent," DWR stated.
Yes, that's right, the fish - not water marketing and water privatization by big corporations - are the "reason" why "poor farmers" in the Westlands Water District and Kern County could have their deliveries cut "by 30 percent," according to DWR's poor logic.
And DWR has a "solution" - build the peripheral canal ("water conveyance") and new dams!
"Governor Schwarzenegger has championed a comprehensive water plan that he recently signed into law," DWR stated. "The package would safeguard the states water supply through conservation, more surface and groundwater storage, new investments in the states aging water infrastructure, and improved water conveyance to protect the environment and provide a reliable water supply."
Of course, even if torrential storms of biblical proportions were causing massive flooding throughout California right now, Schwarzenegger and DWR staff would be campaigning for the peripheral canal, new dams and the passage of the $11.1 billion water bond as the "solution" to the problem!
Salmon Water Now, a collaboration between fishermen and media professionals, has released a superb new video, The Water Pirates, describing how agribusiness maintains a dangerous stranglehold on water management policy in California. You can watch the Video at: YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwqVc8Hbmqk&fmt=18 or Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/8521134.