Here is a letter I intend to present to the board of supervisors at their Jan. 21 meeting.
Greetings Honorable Board of Supervisors,
I want to commend the Board for adopting the East San Joaquin Groundwater Sustainability Plan at your Jan. 14, 2018, meeting. There are people, maybe some in this room, who say that government can’t do anything right. They’re wrong. Governments do all kinds of worthwhile things for the populations they serve. Managing our water resources is one of them. Thank you, Calaveras County.
Someone may argue that Calaveras County becoming a member of the Eastside San Joaquin Groundwater Sustainability Agency is tantamount to the county surrendering up its autonomy to “Big Government.” The San Joaquin Groundwater Basin is in overdraft due to over pumping by “Big Agriculture.” It’s a big problem. Big government is exactly what we need to manage it. In some places the surface elevation of the valley floor has dropped 40 feet due to groundwater extraction. Some of that groundwater we’re pumping up and wasting is water left over from the meltdown of the Ice Age. It can’t be replaced. The surface elevation of the valley floor can’t be pumped back up.
The sun shining on the Pacific Ocean raises water vapor high into the atmosphere. Some of that water blows eastward and falls as rain on California. Some of it falls on New York. Some of the rain that falls on New York is Pacific Ocean water. None of the rain that falls on California is Atlantic Ocean water. Zero. The whole atmospheric system moves from west to east.
Water is life. Our Constitution guarantees us the right to “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.” Hence, the Constitution guarantees our right to water. All the rainwater that falls on the United States belongs to the United States. The United States Government has the self-proclaimed legal authority to claim ownership of that water, and the military might to enforce that claim if need be. Does it follow that all the water that falls on Colorado belongs to Colorado? Does it follow that all the water that falls on Mesa County, Colo., belongs to Mesa County? Does it follow that all the water that falls on Tom Cruise’s ranch in Mesa County belongs to Tom Cruise?
Everybody lives downstream from somebody. Do the upstream people have a right to waste, pollute or hoard water that downstream people need because they have “private property” rights? No! The water that falls on Tom Cruise’s ranch belongs to the Colorado River and the millions of people in Mexico and Los Angeles who need that water. Tom Cruise does not have the legal authority to claim that water nor the military might to back it up if he does claim it.
(P.S. I don’t know that Tom Cruise is involved in any “water rights” conflict with anybody or is making any claims.)
As the climate gets warmer, the water rising from the ocean will rise higher into the atmosphere. More of it will blow further east before it falls as rain. California is looking into a drier future. New York is looking into a wetter future. New York will get more of our water. We will get less. It’s damned well time for California to start conserving its water while we still have some instead of waiting until it’s gone.
I would way rather have our elected representatives in government managing our resources in the public interest than have “private” interests managing them for “private gain.”