By Andrea Widburg, American Thinker
In terms of the Democrats’ current dominance, remember that conservatives have a secret weapon on their side: Reality. Every one of the Democrats’ Utopian ideas and goals will eventually collapse under the weight of reality. There’s an inkling of that in an article distributed by the Bay Area News Group (“BANG”), which provides content to various left-leaning newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The other day, a BANG writer seemed surprised to learn that environmental rules are starving California of life-giving water, all to save a very small fish.
California is a state that habitually cycles between drought and deluge. It will go years with constantly lessening rain, only to have a spectacularly wet winter completely wipe out that drought.
In the 20th century, California embarked on massive irrigation projects that turned the Central Valley into America’s breadbasket despite droughts. A well-watered Central Valley was one of the reasons that Americans had such wonderful access to healthy, low-cost produce.
Then, the environmentalists learned that the wee Delta Smelt, a little fish unique to the Sacramento Delta, was on the verge of extinction. Ironically, the environmentalists prevailed during the administrations of President Nixon (the 1973 federal Endangered Species Act) and Governor Reagan (the 1970 California Endangered Species Act).
In 2014, during the last drought before this one, Allysia Finley wrote about California’s insane water policy. At that time, the Central Valley was being forced to leave 500,000 acres fallow because there wasn’t enough water. The reason for this government-created dust bowl was that the priority was protecting the smelt.
After 300 smelt were found trapped in pumps that were releasing water from the Sacramento Delta to farmland, the federal government stepped in. According to Finley, the state then “flushed 800,000 acre-feet into the San Francisco Bay last winter and an additional 445,000 acre-feet this spring to safeguard the endangered delta smelt. That’s enough for roughly three million households to live on and to irrigate 600,000 acres of land.”
A couple of years later, I took this picture while driving through the Central Valley
When he was a candidate in 2016, Trump announced that he would push back against these rules, but his own EPA won out in 2019, enforcing even stronger rules, something Governor Newsom reinforced in 2020. Now, even urban water supplies are suffering.
Conservatives have long known what’s been happening, but it was a surprise to see Paul Rogers, from the Bay Area News Group, make the same point for BANG’s Democrat-majority reading audience:
The most drenching storms in the past five years have soaked Northern California, sending billions of gallons of water pouring across the state after three years of severe drought.
But 94% of the water that has flowed since New Year’s Eve through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a linchpin of California’s water system, has continued straight to the Pacific Ocean instead of being captured and stored in the state’s reservoirs.
Environmental regulations aimed at protecting a two-inch-long fish, the endangered Delta smelt, have required the massive state and federal pumps near Tracy to reduce pumping rates by nearly half of their full limit, sharply curbing the amount of water that can be saved for farms and cities to the south.
The move has angered Central Valley politicians of both parties along with agricultural leaders, who have been arguing for many months that someone must help farmers suffering terribly during the drought. Now they are frustrated that the state Department of Water Resources and the federal Bureau of Reclamation aren’t capturing more water amid the record rainfall.
An immense amount of water was moving through the Delta on Friday. The flow rate was so high that it surpassed the volume raging down the mighty Columbia River near Portland, Oregon.
At that rate, about 159,000 cubic feet per second, the Delta was carrying enough water — 316,500 acre feet a day or 1.2 million gallons every second — to fill an empty reservoir the size of Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park to the top every 27 hours.
When the state and federal pumps are fully running, they can move roughly 10,800 cubic feet per second. That means they are unable to catch most of the current deluge even if maxed out. But since Jan. 1, they have averaged just 6,415 cfs per day — far less than their capacity.
This article won’t change anything any time soon. Still, it gives me hope that reality is starting to make inroads in the “Utopia” of California, a Utopia distinguished by drug abuse, homelessness, and poverty, most of it hidden from the Blue coast elites who live in their fine mansions, far from the fallout of the policies they push.