The San Jose Mercury News, San Jose’s chief newspaper, has published an editorial ripping Governor Jerry Brown for his inaction in confronting the drought that is wreaking havoc on the state.
The editorial noted: “The governor called an official state of emergency way back in January 2014–but you wouldn’t know it from his actions since. Lame doesn’t begin to describe Brown’s failure to show leadership on this threat to the state’s long-range future that’s easily as dire as the massive budget deficit he inherited in 2011.”
The paper delineated exactly how Brown’s laxity has hurt the state, pointing out that he could have offered incentives to urban water users to reduce their water use by replacing old appliances using water with new low-flow products. Instead, the paper claimed, his Water Resources Control Board only told restaurants to stop offering water unless it was requested.
The editorial also criticized Brown’s offer last week to provide $660 million for flood control–money that was approved almost ten years ago–rather than offer funds to help famers install drip-irrigation systems or to have the state reduce the amount of groundwater pumping. The Mercury News noted: “Only 40 percent of California farmers now use low-volume systems–and 80 percent of the state’s water goes to agriculture. Reducing the use of flood irrigation in the Central Valley is the state’s greatest water-saving opportunity.”
A third criticism leveled at Brown charged him with ignoring ornamental lawns, and urged him to force parks, golf courses and ballfields to use recycled water.
The op-ed insinuates that there may be an ulterior motive behind Brown’s inaction: if water conservation techniques are implemented and became successful, then Brown’s $25 billion Delta twin-tunnels project to transport water to the Central Valley and Southern California would be imperiled.
Brown asked the federal government for $4 billion dollars to help build the Delta Tunnels project, according to Southern California Public Radio (SCPR), which even the EPA said would violate the Clean Water Act. SCPR reported that U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) had called the project a “boondoggle” and claimed it would put San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento Delta at risk.
The editorial concluded, “He said last week he’s considering additional measures. Think fast, governor.”