Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Editorial - The Barbara Boxer Water Rebellion

Barbara Boxer has torpedoed more legislation than she’s helped pass during her four terms in the Senate. Before retiring for good (literally), the Bay Area Democrat is trying to sink a water bill that could provide modest relief to farmers in California’s parched Central Valley. Congress plans to vote this week on bipartisan legislation that would authorize a variety of water projects including port dredging, reservoirs, fish hatcheries, lake recreation and wetlands restoration. The package also includes $120 million to fix Flint, Michigan’s corroded pipes and other aging municipal water systems. Yet Ms. Boxer has blown a gasket over a rider inserted by House Republicans and her Democratic colleague Dianne Feinstein that would direct the Departments of Interior and Commerce to operate the pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta at the maximum levels allowed by law. “There is no place for that as long as I am breathing,” Ms. Boxer declared. After five years of drought, California’s Central Valley is desperate for water. During this year’s El Nino, farmers south of the Delta received a mere 5% of their contractual allocations. A half-million acres of land have been withdrawn from farm production, and groundwater tables are dangerously low. Unemployment exceeds 9% in the Valley. Even amid heavy storms, only 852,000 of the 5.5 million acre-feet of water that flowed into the Delta during the first two months of this year—enough to sustain nearly two million acres of farm land—was sent south. The rest drained into the San Francisco Bay due to a lack of surface storage in the Sierras and pumping restrictions ostensibly intended to protect endangered species...more

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