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Poli 103A: California Politics Water and Environmental Politics . Water and Environmental Politics. Water Stories and Water Lessons Los Angeles and Chinatown The Bay Delta and the Peripheral Canal San Diego and the Imperial Irrig. District The Endangered Species Act A Zero-Sum Game?

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water and environmental politics
Water and Environmental Politics
  • Water Stories and Water Lessons
    • Los Angeles and Chinatown
    • The Bay Delta and the Peripheral Canal
    • San Diego and the Imperial Irrig. District
  • The Endangered Species Act
    • A Zero-Sum Game?
    • The Wedge of Environmentalism
los angeles and chinatown
Los Angeles and Chinatown
  • The Need for Imported Water.
    • From 1868 to 1910, Los Angeles’ 1,596 artesian wells nearly dried up the area’s underground pools and reservoirs.
    • In 1900, the new Department of Water and Power projected shortages for the fast-growing city of 102,249.
    • San Fernando Valley farmers had lost their riparian rights on the LA River.
los angeles and chinatown4
In 1903-5, J.B. Lippincott (US Bureau of Reclamation) and Fred Eaton (former LA Mayor) bought up lands along the Owens River, which fed flourishing farms.

In 1905 and again in 1910, a syndicate led by Harry Chandler, Joseph Sartori, Henry Huntington, and M.H. Sherman bought 108,000 acres of Valley land at $5-10 an acre.

Los Angeles and Chinatown
los angeles and chinatown5
Los Angeles and Chinatown
  • Unveiling the Plan. In July 1905, the LA Times announced the plan to build a $25 million aqueduct, which was approved by voters in September after water dumping and rationing.
  • Owens Valley Resistance. After losing in the Legislature and courts, farmers dynamited aqueduct in 1924, but by 1927 saluted their conquerors.
los angeles and chinatown7
Los Angeles and Chinatown
  • Water Lesson #1:Water changes the value of land. In a state of deserts, land value is built by moving water.
  • Water Lesson #2:Public relations are paramount. Votes for bonds need attention, while devious dealings need to be kept low profile.
the bay delta and the peripheral canal
The Bay Delta and the Peripheral Canal

Red lines are state projects

Yellow are federal projects

Green are local projects

the bay delta and the peripheral canal9
The Bay Delta and the Peripheral Canal
  • “Crossroads of California’s Water.” Where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet and flow into the San Francisco Bay:
    • Local farmers and residents use water.
    • Environmentalists try to protect wetlands in Delta and fish upstream.
    • Freshwater is pushed across the Delta on its way to the Central Valley and SoCal.
the bay delta and the peripheral canal10
The Bay Delta and the Peripheral Canal
  • Jerry Brown backed an initiative to complete his father Pat’s legacy with the peripheral canal, with strings.
  • The environmental strings were too costly for Central Valley farmers, who bankrolled the opposition to canal.
  • Public vote on the canal lost 37-63% on the June, 1982 ballot.
the bay delta and the peripheral canal11
The Bay Delta and the Peripheral Canal
  • Water Lesson #3:Alliances of convenience don’t last forever. Farmers’ political muscle and SoCal ratepayers money not a strong bond.
  • Water Lesson #4:Water politics is regional politics. 60% support for canal in Los Angeles, but only 10% support in the Bay Area.
san diego and the imperial irrigation district
San Diego and the Imperial Irrigation District
  • Huge price disparities between residential and agricultural users:
    • Residents pay $0.49-3.78 per 748 gallons
    • Farmers pay $14 per acre/foot, or $.03 per 748 gallons, with federal subsidies
  • Water Transfers. In 1992, Bill Bradley, George Miller, the EDF, and the Met changed federal law to allow the sale Central Valley Project water to urbans.
san diego and the imperial irrigation district13
San Diego and the Imperial Irrigation District
  • The Metropolitan Water District (Met) is an enormous special district that sells and transports water to member cities in Southern California.
  • San Diego and neighboring cities are at the “end of the Met’s pipe.”
  • Imperial Valley has Colorado River rights, weak efficiency incentives.
san diego and the imperial irrigation district14
San Diego and the Imperial Irrigation District
  • Texans Sid and Lee Bass attempted a second Chinatown by buying Imperial Valley water rights to sell to cities.
  • San Diego wanted to buy the water, but the Met’s infrastructure became the physical and legal sticking point.
  • October, 2003 deal sends 65 billion gallons a year to S.D for $50 million.
san diego and the imperial irrigation district15
San Diego and the Imperial Irrigation District
  • Water Lesson #5:Price disparities create resentment, inefficiencies, and the opportunity for big deals.
the endangered species act a zero sum game
The Endangered Species Act:A Zero Sum Game?
  • What the Acts Say:
    • 1973 Federal ESA and CESA say that scientists determine whether species are “threatened” or “endangered,” then agencies adopt conservation plans and prohibit private “takings” of species. Agencies can’t jeopardize habitat.
    • Logging, development, or highways can be halted if spotted owls, gnatcatchers, or kangaroo rats are harmed or jeopardized.
the endangered species act the wedge of environmentalism
The Endangered Species Act: The Wedge of Environmentalism
  • The case of the addition of “incidental take” permits to the CESA reveals the surprising politics of the environment.
    • Attempts to roll back the CESA after the Republicans took control of the Assembly in 1994 reached far and failed.
    • After Democrats retook control, SB 879 (Johnston, D-Stockton) passed over opposition of most environmental groups, but with a neutral Sierra Club.
the endangered species act the wedge of environmentalism18
The Endangered Species Act: The Wedge of Environmentalism
  • Support for agriculture in the Central Valley and development in Orange and Riverside Counties drive a wedge inside the Democratic Party.
  • Support for coastal and mountain environmental preservation splits Republicans in San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Silicon Valley.
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • Should the sins of Mulholland in the Owens Valley be visited upon today’s Los Angeles water ratepayers?
  • Why is water priced lower for agricultural uses than it is for domestic use? Should it be?
  • Is environmentalism a wedge issue at the statewide level?