The bottom line is that the water losses cannot be mitigated and the co-equal Water Management Goal is a sham. In addition, the goal of a self- sustaining salmon fishery is also not achievable. First the funding has dried up, and none of the projects required to get the River ready for salmon have been completed.
Nevertheless, the environmentalists and some government officials continue to demand that hundreds of thousand of acre-feet be released to the ocean anyway. Also, the environmentalists own data shows that the water temperatures caused by global warming will be too hot for salmon to survive. Finally, the promise of no harmful impacts to third parties as a result of actions involving the Settlement has also been broken. An example is the farmers along the San Joaquin River who have had their permanent crops damaged by water seeping up in to the root zone because of restoration flows.
THE IMMEDIATE SOLUTION
For the first time in many years, there is proposed legislation in both the House and the Senate to address the water situation in California. For the East Side of the San Joaquin Valley, it is imperative that the revision of the San Joaquin River Settlement be ‘on the table’ and part of the legislation. The revision is simple. Change the River Restoration goal from a self-sustaining salmon fishery to an extension of the current 40 mile, robust fishery that currently exists below Friant Dam. This concept will provide us with a live fishery 360 days/year and allow achievement of the Water management Goal.
In addition, it will save billions of dollars. Some of these savings could be used to enhance the salmon fisheries currently in existence that are in the cooler climates required for salmon viability. Harmful Third party impacts will also be eliminated. The result would be a live river, more total salmon, and the return of the availability of hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of surface water that is essential to the East Side.
LONG TERM SOLUTIONS
There are several long term solutions required for this area to be able to maintain its ability to feed the nation and the world. They are:
1. An appropriate revision of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that allows for the worthwhile goals of the Act to be achieved without decimating areas like the San Joaquin Valley, and the food supply of the United States. Concurrent with that legislation, a proposed law requiring environmental water releases be held to the same standards for efficiency and accountability as required of urban and agricultural uses. Water is a public resource and should not be wasted by any user. So, if an environmental water release is not accomplishing the task for which it is being released, then it should be made available to the other water users so it may be beneficially used for society.