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  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: The most important thing to know about

  • fresh water in California is that there just isn't enough.

  • The second thing you quickly find out is that the state's

  • no stranger to full-on water wars.

  • Basically, whoever controls the water in California

  • controls the future.

  • Currently the dominant player in the state's big agriculture

  • is Paramount Farms, which is owned and

  • operated by Stewart Resnick.

  • Stewart's goals have recently aligned very closely with

  • Governor Jerry Brown's.

  • WALT GRAY: California's water war is heating up.

  • The governor has just unveiled a new $14 billion plan to

  • build two tunnels underneath the delta, transferring water

  • from northern California to southern California.

  • The governor says his plan will create a reliable water

  • supply and still maintain a healthy

  • ecosystem in the delta.

  • Not everyone agrees.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: That's why we came out west.

  • We wanted a firsthand look into the newest chapter of

  • California's water works.

  • So, our first job was to meet Congressman John Garamendi,

  • who has been fighting Jerry Brown's water

  • proposals since the '70s.

  • JOHN GARAMENDI: This proposal goes back at least 40 years.

  • Jerry Brown, in the 1970s, when he was governor, wanted

  • to build this system, got it through the legislature.

  • I and several other folks decided that was a bad thing

  • and we fought it.

  • We had a referendum.

  • And now he's back.

  • He said it very clearly, I'm going to do it this time.

  • What are you going to do, governor?

  • You're so determined to relive your old life that you want to

  • destroy this thing?

  • You want to build a system that would destroy the largest

  • estuary on the west coast of the Western hemisphere?

  • Is that what this is all about, just so

  • you say I did it?

  • It's the north versus the south.

  • It's the war of water in California.

  • It's been going on since the gold rush, and it's continuing

  • to this day.

  • ADAM KEATS: This area right here is the point at which the

  • water leaves the public realm and enters the private realm,

  • so to speak.

  • The equation is solely focused on big, Southern California

  • agribusiness.

  • Huge mega-corporations that are some of the largest farm

  • interests in the world, producing big-money crops.

  • And that's the primary thing driving this thing.

  • And no one has a right to own the water.

  • It doesn't mean you can totally deprive the rest of

  • the state of its access to the water--

  • and when I say rest of the state, that includes the fish

  • and the birds and the animals.

  • Early on, in the early 2000s, mid 2000s, we noticed huge

  • declines of fish species in the delta.

  • 6 million splittail were killed in one count, and

  • 14,000, 15,000 salmon.

  • Instead of having the power in one interest, the San Joaquin

  • Valley farmers-- and that's primarily one company,

  • Paramount Farms--

  • instead of having one big boy controlling the whole game,

  • have the state control it, and have the state control with

  • very strict rules, in terms of who gets water, when they get

  • water, why they get water.

  • And include in that mix all the birds and fish in the

  • environment and ecosystem up here.

  • But you can answer all the questions just by figuring out

  • where the money is, who's making the most

  • money off the deal.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Moving large amounts of water from

  • one place to another isn't anything new.

  • But the water from the San Joaquin delta is already

  • spoken for.

  • By law, farmers who have lived here in the San Joaquin Valley

  • for over 250 years still maintain priority rights over

  • the delta's water.

  • They get it first, and their livelihoods depend on it.

  • RUDY MUSSI: My father was a farmer.

  • I farm with my brother, and I've done that

  • for the last 50 years.

  • All this proposal does is just steal the water from one area

  • and ship it to another area.

  • The reasoning changes all the time.

  • At first, it was to enhance the aquatic species out here.

  • Well, the Academy of Science said the peripheral tunnels or

  • canal won't enhance the species.

  • So then they said, well, we'll do adaptive management.

  • So, in other words, we're going to build this and then

  • we'll figure it out how to work it.

  • We fought this battle in 1982, and I think my dad fought this

  • battle in the '50s and the '60s.

  • It's always been somebody trying to steal our water.

  • Anytime there's a finite amount of water, there's

  • always somebody that doesn't have it that wants it.

  • And don't get me wrong.

  • We don't mind sharing any surplus water, but

  • don't take my water.

  • I depend on it for my livelihood.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Right now, we're heading into Clarksburg,

  • where we're going to film where they want to begin these

  • new tunnels.

  • Sacramento River, chilling on a private levee.

  • Snuck out here so we can see it for ourselves.

  • If Jerry Brown's peripheral canal proposal goes through,

  • they'll take two large tunnels underground, right under here,

  • and 9,000 cubic inches of water per second will be taken

  • from Sacramento River all the way down south.

  • And basically, all the farmers out here are completely

  • dependent on this water.

  • Potentially, that could all end as quickly as

  • shutting off a faucet.

  • John Herrick is one of a number of lawyers working to

  • stop the Bay Delta

  • conservation plan from approval.

  • Along with a number of colleagues, John's been on the

  • job for about 30 years already.

  • JOHN HERRICK: Their proposal is, we're going to improve the

  • delta by moving our intake.

  • So their plan is to make the delta better by having less

  • fresh water flow through it.

  • It's that nuts.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Why does the Department of Water

  • Resources and the Department of the Interior want them to

  • have those water rights?

  • JOHN HERRICK: That's an interesting question.

  • I don't know.

  • One of the things that should be separated, but isn't, is

  • the fact that the Department of Water Resources is a seller

  • to the contractors.

  • So large amounts of money go from the people who want the

  • water, exporters, to the department.

  • That connection of buyer-seller has resulted in

  • the Department of Water Resources following the

  • desires of their clients, their buyers.

  • In our opinion, although we haven't figured out a way,

  • there are people that should be put in

  • jail for these things.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: All right, so basically, all of the

  • proponents of the peripheral canal have pointed us in the

  • direction of the Department of Water Resources.

  • But unfortunately, after we set up an appointment with

  • them, they claimed that they heard some things about us and

  • decided to cancel our 2 o'clock appointment.

  • So it is 10 o'clock now.

  • We figure we might jump in, because we have to hear from

  • their side, and their reasons behind wanting

  • this peripheral canal.

  • Yeah, we're doing an interview.

  • How's it going?

  • -Oh, you know.

  • I work for state parks.

  • How good can it be?

  • -This too shall pass.

  • -It's entertaining.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: Uh, yeah we did.

  • For 10 o'clock, originally.

  • The secretary was sharp enough to divert us away from the

  • building and not let us talk to anybody.

  • But we got some good pizza

  • recommendations, so we're cool.

  • Once we got back to New York, we realized that after all of

  • our appointments were canceled with the Department of Water

  • Resources, the Natural Resources Agency, and the

  • chemist who helped back the proposal's science, we didn't

  • have a single statement from the proponents of the plan,

  • let alone a positive one.

  • So we tried again.

  • OK, so I just found the list of all of the supporters.

  • This is everybody who is a proponent of

  • the peripheral canal.

  • Let's see if we can talk to somebody.

  • [PHONE RINGING]

  • -Financial Resources Agency, this is Kim, how may

  • I direct your call?

  • Hi there.

  • My name is Emerson Rosenthal, and I'm calling on behalf of

  • Vice Media.

  • OK.

  • Can you hold for just one second?

  • Let me see if there's somebody available.

  • Hi, this is Nancy Vogel, director of public affairs for

  • the department.

  • Hi, you've reached [INAUDIBLE]

  • with Paramount Farms, please leave a message and I will

  • return your call.

  • We had someone here in the office that covers Bay Delta.

  • They're not in right now, you can leave a message--

  • Were you the woman that sent us to that

  • really great pizza place?

  • Yes.

  • That's me.

  • OK.

  • Oh good, you guys liked Zelda's, after all?

  • Yeah, it was delicious.

  • Just one second, let me see if there's somebody available.

  • Will you please hold for just one second?

  • One moment.

  • Thank you.

  • One moment.

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: The only response we got was an email

  • from the governor's press office, with a link to their

  • press release.

  • In the meantime, the governor's been hard at work

  • pushing the proposal past a legislative vote, in spite of

  • the opposition.

  • JERRY BROWN: This proposal balances the concerns of those

  • who live and work on the delta, those who rely on it

  • for water, and those who appreciate its beauty, its

  • fish, waterfowl and wildlife.

  • EMERSON ROSENTHAL: So we'll have to go with that as their

  • official statement.

  • And with all lines of communication cut off between

  • the designers of the plan and the people asking questions,

  • the Bay Delta conservation plan is quickly becoming an

  • imminent reality in the haze of California politics.

  • Will governor Jerry Brown win the water war he's been waging

  • since the '70s?

  • Is this a new precedent for controlling water in America?

  • In the words of Detective Walsh, in perhaps the most

  • famous film about California's water, "Forget it, Jake.

  • It's Chinatown."

  • [MUSIC PLAYING]

EMERSON ROSENTHAL: The most important thing to know about

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B1 water emerson delta california governor proposal

The Fight for California's Fresh Water: America's Water Crisis (Part 3/3)

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    Bing-Je posted on 2013/12/07
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