It’s been a year of surprises, one thing after another – a pandemic that shut down the world, a murder hornet that suddenly appeared in the north woods, rioting in the streets, and even a giant meteor just missed the earth. But there is one more startling event that not many people know about. That is: The State and the feds are actually talking to each other about our water. They’ve been figuring out how to balance the needs of fish versus farmers and settle how they will handle water deliveries to the Central Valley and Southern California.
For years there has been a war of words between the President and the California Governor. Both sides refused to moderate their positions. Threats of lawsuits were flying like water balloons at a kid’s lawn party. But behind the scene, the managers of the state and the federal water systems were working together to keep the water flowing. Farm groups were cheering them on, and urging Governor Newsom to work with the federal government to resolve the issues.
The dispute was over competing biological opinions which govern how their re- spective water projects are operated. The state placed a higher priority over environmental concerns than the feds. The feds put farms and cities as the priority.
The State says the new federal conclusions are not scientifically adequate and don’t do enough to protect species and the state’s interests.
Those were the official positions, but the people who operate the federal and the state systems were talking to each other, looking for common ground.
Last week, California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot told the media that there are some clear differences between the state and the federal approach, “but the men and women that actually operate the system work closely together.” He said that “They all wake up every morning wanting to maximize water reliability but also to avoid extinction of fish.”
With this attitude, maybe they really can work out a fair and equitable solution. Maybe something good will happen in this year of nasty surprises.
About the Author
Len Wilcox is a retired scientist who also ran a newspaper and has written for agricultural publications since the 1980s. He was a regular contributor to California Farmer Magazine. His commentary “The Western View” is a regular feature on Farm City Newsday and AgNet West.