This is the last (promise!) in a series of postings on the five Delta-related water bills now under consideration in Sacramento. Mr. Green has a different and valid opinion that hasn’t been heard in this series – thus we’re posting rather than publish it as a comment.
First, a clarification. The meeting will not be a public hearing, but a joint study session with TUD to be conducted today at 1:30 in the Board Chambers. It has been noticed per the requirements of the Brown Act, the local radio station has been running spots, the paper generally publishes information about upcoming Board meetings, and finally, over 700 Facebook friends and over 200 blog subscribers have heard now nine different perspectives, been exposed to a wide but not necessarily exhaustive range of opinions, and been told about the meeting more than once.
Here is Mr. Allen Green’s opinion.
Re: Imperfect & Lousy Solutions: what’s a county of origin to do?
Teri, It would be nice to have had more time to announce the TCBS / TUD hearings that are on for tomorrow. As a summertime user of Pinecrest Lake, I have been following the water rights fights pretty closely. Let me know when Toulumne County wants to give up all of the money that comes in from tourism – isn’t that one of the major, if not the major, income source of the County? Nobody wants the residents to go without water, however the regulation of the lake should be a joint agreement based upon comsumptive needs and recreational needs. When PG&E has Pinecrest Lake up too high in the early summer months (late May / early June) there is no, or very little beach available. Also in the late summer (late August / September / early October) if they let the late out too far the mud pits and rocks show up also limiting pleasurable use of the lake.
With TUD experiencing major water losses in their distribution system and pushing for more and more development, wouldn’t you think that they also have some responsibility for water conservation? Where is it?
The National Forest Homeowners Association, in a nationwide survey, has come up with a figure of $7,500 per year per cabin spent within a 50 mile radius. For Pinecrest this would be an even greater amount because of the metropolitan aspect of the region. The Forest Service has about 700 permits in the Pinecrest Recreational Basin — this computes to over $5.25 million coming into Tuolumne County. Surely this is of value and should be considered. If you ask the voting residents of the County to diminish the financial value of the Pinecrest Recreational Basin and therefore raise their taxes, I think you know what they’ll say — let’s start conserving our precious water and come to some reasonable agreement over it’s shared use.
I, personally, don’t think that you can point at the State Water Resources Board and label them as a villian. Take a close look at TUD, who have no defensible water rights, and see what they have / have not done.
While it may be politically correct to take a stand against those in power, however I would like politicians to have a balanced view on issues before they start taking sides. Feel free to share this with others at the hearing tomorrow, due to the last minute notice (maybe it was published somewhere and I missed it) I have other plans and will not be able to attend.
Thanks, Mr. Green. You make a valid point about the regulation of the lake needing to be a joint agreement based upon consumptive and recreational needs. There was such an agreement reached within the last few years that everyone from TUD to the USFS, PG&E, environmentalists, recreation interests, and others hammered out in years of meetings during the FERC relicensing process. The State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) staff, not their governing Board, chose to ignore that consensus-based agreement to prohibit further draw down of Pinecrest for consumptive use (that’s residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial) when the water falls to a certain level. SWRCB staff has been instructed to take a new look at the way they got to that decision and for that we are very grateful.
We find it alarming that in all the discussion of potential solutions and interests, we hear no legislators, agencies, or environmentalist voices mentioning that there are needs other than in the Delta, San Joaquin Valley, the Bay Area, and Southern California. There was no voice on the panels in the Joint Committee hearing (at least on the 18th) for local governments and the communities they represent in the Delta or elsewhere, despite the significant impacts with which they will have to deal.
The needs and conditions of counties of origin must be factored into the solution and not ignored or sacrificed because they can be. Water rights or no, there are living, breathing communities and habitat that depends on the waters that now flow through TUD to much of the county – even when Pinecrest’s level drops.
All that said, we appreciate Mr. Green taking the time to write and share his opinion, as did others. We will make sure his opinion is distributed to the Board members today along with the others. Balance, as he says, is very important. Additional conservation in Tuolumne County will be a component of the Delta solution. The Delta is in trouble and that has implications for all of us.
King Solomon, where are you?