Sunday, April 01, 2007

Walters on the PC

Good overview on the peripheral canal and what happened to it politically.

Dan Walters: Canal still best Delta water fix
By Dan Walters - Bee Columnist
Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, April 1, 2007

Jerry Brown's eight-year governorship was an eclectic, often inconsistent mélange of pronouncements and actions, some of which were far-seeing -- alternative energy, for instance -- and some short-sighted and injurious, such as misreading population growth trends and virtually shutting down highway construction as unneeded.

One of Brown's better initiatives was closing a gap in the water system that had been started under his father, Pat Brown, and is the chief source of water for two-thirds of Californians. Water is captured by a dam on the Feather River at Oroville and carried to the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California via the California Aqueduct, fed by pumps at the south end of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta near Tracy.

Pumping water out of the Delta, the younger Brown recognized, was injurious to the huge estuary's marine life by interfering with and even reversing natural flows. Therefore, he and his water director, Ron Robie, wanted to isolate the delicate ecosystem from the water transfer system by building a 44-mile-long, sloughlike channel to carry water around the Delta to the aqueduct.

Initially, the "Peripheral Canal" enjoyed support from both environmentalists and municipal and agricultural water agencies, but by the time the young governor had squeezed it through the Legislature, the comity had evaporated.