Water wars and water rights
Re “The fluid state of liquid politics,” Opinion, Aug. 23
With a glass of home-filtered water, I toast Bruce Babbitt and Douglas Wheeler for pushing CalFed water projects. Putting politics aside, more can be achieved to equitably distribute water for California’s environment, farming and cities. The issue of drinking water also needs to be addressed.
Consumers, hesitant to drink water delivered to homes because of impurities and chemical additives, rely on producers of bottled water and home water-filtering systems to satisfy a basic human need. Drinking water has become a moneymaking endeavor.
CalFed is falling apart because the water industry is more concerned about pumping even more water out of the San Francisco Bay Delta, despite the fact that the delta ecosystem is crashing, than about changing the rules about water rights. Water rights are the right to use water, not an ownership right. But the water industry has been working hard to convert water rights into property rights so they can sell what really belongs to all of us, and profit from it. There is more money in selling water than in farming.
They have met in secret to change the State Water Project contracts and how the delta is managed: not for the fish, but to increase the amount of water pumped out. This is intolerable in a democracy where the people’s interests must come before private profit. And the water industry, major beneficiaries of what CalFed has been able to accomplish, refuses to pay its fair share for the work that still needs to be done.
We have all agreed that the beneficiary should pay, perhaps not all that is required but most of it. As a result, CalFed is underfunded and unable to fulfill its obligation to repair the ecosystem in the delta, provide for a more reliable water supply (not a bigger supply), fix the delta levies and improve water quality.