Executive Address – May 2014

Bring on the heat, the dust, and the early fire season –May is here.  I feel like this summer is the biggest and most sticky Band-Aid we folks from the Central Valley may ever have to rip off our skin –so I’d rather just get it over with!  The worst (regulation-created) drought in history –despite it not being the real “worst” drought by clerical accounting, is upon us with an added side of bureaucratic insanity.  Many of us have never seen a year like this one –and never hope to again. 
Despite the desperate cries for help, the endless trips to Sacramento and Washington D.C., the number of days spent pleading  the Valley’s case in front of those “who matter,” no relief is yet in sight that would avoid this disaster from happening in the future.  Regulatory relief has been marginal –with continued flows for environmental obligations by the State and Federal government staying at the top of the priority list (over farming needs).  Storage proposals now draw dust on their billfolds, and absolutely ZERO tangible progress has been made on any effective water bond language coming out of the State legislature. 
If government can’t provide the ability of its citizens to earn a living and put literal food on the table in a time of crisis –doesn’t that typically warrant a “revolt?”  I’ve not yet experienced a real revolt but maybe those of you who have can fill me in. 
What is the usual tipping point for a revolt by governed citizens?  Maybe I can make a list, albeit with much sarcasm;

  • Lack of progress to get off one’s backside (while we pull trees out of production, many municipalities still enjoy their full paychecks while NOT issuing water rationing guidance to communities),
  • Inability to compromise (there are 27 different versions of a water bond in the State Legislature),
  • False promises or the promise of an unrealistic outcome (we can raise Shasta Dam or build New Melones),
  • Lying (the steelheads in the San Joaquin River are super happy and swimming in cool, refreshed water),
  • Total failure to react to the citizens’ needs of an entire state –NOT just to a constituency (the Governor waited until we had to drink sand in the desert before he issued a drought declaration, and then he choked the Valley’s west side with an jaw-dropping threat of zero water allocation for as long as possible).

This is a pretty bleak picture and I’m fairly young to be this sarcastic about our political leaders, but I do know if you want to get something done, you’ve often got to do it yourself.  The point to the above rant regarding revolt is really about me believing that we need to begin the daunting process of building water infrastructure PRIVATELY, and not rely on the Government to do it for us –because they never will.  Even when faced with the annihilation of industry, jobs, economies of scale, and entire communities –they can’t give us effective relief or even hope.
When faced with an oasis in the desert, people will drink the sand based on the hope that it will quench their thirst.  But it’s our job to know the difference between sand and water.  It’s time to tell the Feds and the State that they can go pound the sand they’ve poured into the oasis, because we’re going to stop drinking it (literally).  We will build water ourselves, and call it our own brew, and then we’ll make them drink it. 

Anja K. Raudabaugh
Executive Director

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