Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dams & Walters on Water

1) This commentary in the Bee helps to explain why the anti-dam folks are slowly losing the argument, and continues the perception that protecting the places where the major dams will be built “along the Mekong in Southeast Asia, the Amazon basin, the rivers of Chilean Patagonia and the Congo River in central Africa – are some of the last wild rivers on Earth,” may be more—though perhaps unconsciously—about preserving vacation spots for well-heeled eco-tourists than what building dams there will actually accomplish, the elevation of standards of living from the currently primitive village-based cultures subject to seasonal floods causing wide devastation and deprivation, which precluded the building of the Three Gorges dam in China.

2) This column by Dan Walters makes a good case for the creation of a commission to determine the use for any future water related funding to help ensure the funds are used wisely rather than pork-barrelish, and it may be what is needed.

Nothing else has worked very well for the past several decades. An excerpt.

“The debate has been under way for three decades without resolution; meanwhile, California's population has grown by 50-plus percent, the Delta has deteriorated, the courts have intervened to restrict water shipments, and there are predictions that global warming will worsen already severe drought shortages.

“Countless blue-ribbon commissions and bureaucratic studies have recommended alternatives, but they have always foundered on the shoals of Capitol politics, including the annual state budget battle. And with Schwarzenegger and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein now proposing a new $9.3 billion water bond issue that would include new storage, the conflict is being joined again.

“It may be, indeed, time simply to raise the money, as we do for transportation, and give it to an independent commission to spend as it sees fit. The present process clearly is not working.”