Watching California’s water argument from afar, I can’t help but see what looks like a remarkable failure to develop a process for juggling competing interests in the management of a classic common pool resource.
political theater drama House field hearing, here’s Mike Connor’s explanation of why it’s not a simple matter of just cranking up the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta pumps:
The Delta is home to people and wildlife reliant on a safe and dependable water supply. Urban areas like Alameda and Contra Costa County draw drinking water from the Delta, and agricultural water districts like the North, Central, and South Delta Water Agencies draw water for crops directly from the Delta. People also fish and recreate there. Commercial fisheries in the area are dependent on adequate water quality. Water quality is a significant factor in Reclamation’s state permits to export water, and for these reasons, water quality requirements for salinity and Delta outflow heavily govern operation of the export pumps, including, at times, restrictions on pumping.
For more on the success and failure of managing common pool resources (pdf).