Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Peripheral Canal

Continuing the discussion, on this project and others like the Auburn Dam, make a lot of sense.

A P.C. peripheral canal
A loaded term in water wars, the well-worn proposal to route supplies around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta deserves a look.
July 21, 2007

"PERIPHERAL CANAL" just might be the most fearsome phrase in California politics: two words that reignite decades-old water wars, pitting environmentalists and Northern Californians against farmers and Southern Californians, and destroying political careers in the process. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is brave to bring up the idea anew, as he did this week. Californians should hear him out.

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is an expanse of islands and levees that's home to farmers, vacationers and a unique native ecosystem. It's also a conduit for more than a third of Southern California's water supply. Gov. Jerry Brown ran into crushing opposition in 1982 when he backed a peripheral canal that would carry water around the delta to users in Southern California. Those users saw it as an extension of the system that greened their cities. Northern Californians, environmentalists and others saw it as a water grab. It was defeated at the polls by a 3-2 margin.

Much has changed in the quarter of a century since. Hurricane Katrina's spectacular floods demonstrated why protecting a state's water supply from old levees might make a lot of sense.