West Coast
Numerous waterways snake through the delta where the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River meet.

California Opinion: Newsom picks fish over farms, but still gets brickbats

When a union president was asked about his end goal in negotiations with his members’ employers, he responded with: “More.” No matter the proposal, he always demanded more of whatever was being offered to his union.

I thought of that cynical retort when looking at the latest battle over water flows through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta — the tangled web of rivers, sloughs and marshland that supplies fresh water to millions of Southern Californians. When it comes to water supplies, environmentalists always demand “more” water for habitat preservation — they’re never satisfied with any compromise proposal.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has given environmentalists much of what they presumably want as it released a 610-page draft Delta environmental report recently that calls for $1.5 billion in habitat restoration among other environmental projects. The governor simultaneously announced a lawsuit against the Trump administration to halt its plan to increase federal water exports to thirsty farms located south of the Delta.

He’s leaning on the side of fish in the state’s never-ending fish v. people debate, but is at least trying to deal with farm and urban water needs. The last thing the administration wants is a crisis of water availability in the midst of the ongoing electricity crisis. But as much as they cheered the lawsuit announcement, environmentalists were aghast at the report because the state plan will allow some additional water for farms.

Read the full opinion piece here.