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Water News and Notes


Variety of water related news on a work filled Wednesday.

1. Richard Lyon has a good run-down on the political side of the California drought. House Republicans are looking to pass a bill that will gut environmental protections for San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin delta and divert a ton of money into more and bigger dams that won’t really solve any of the real problems involved in California’s water supply. Jerry Brown opposes this bill, as does Dianne Feinstein. And for good reason:

The bill unwinds key parts of a landmark 1992 law that directed more water to protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. It repeals an expensive San Joaquin River restoration program that Congress approved five years ago. It strips wild-and-scenic protections from a half-mile of the Merced River in order to potentially expand McClure Reservoir. It lengthens federal irrigation contracts and preempts some state law.

It’s also strongly opposed by the Brown administration in California, whose top natural resources official wrote House leaders Friday to say the bill “falsely holds the promise of water relief that cannot be delivered.”

“This is not a time to start an argument over water we don’t have,” Secretary for Natural Resources John Laird said in a telephone interview Friday. “It would be really helpful not to do something that pits one part of the state against another.”

Effectively, California Republicans are taking advantage of an environmental crisis to gut environmental laws and regulations. Get out your fainting couches, I know this is shocking.

Beth Pratt has more on the issue. And clearly, salmon protections are the ultimate problem with California water supplies….

2. Oceans are getting might toasty. And in 2013, ocean temperature skyrocketed. This, to say the least, ain’t good.

3. Greg Hanscom on one of the most contentious issues surrounding water today–to what extent should taxpayers subsidize people living in flood zones along the coasts through the National Flood Insurance Program. There is no easy answer to this question. If developers choose to rebuild in areas destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, what should the insurance look like? And if we choose not to subsidize that development like in the past, who will pay the cost when the next hurricane hits? The developers? Homeowners? The poor increasingly forced to live in flood zones because land will be cheaper? The politics around this are very hard.

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