Indexed News on:

--the California "Mega-Park" Project

Tracking measurable success on preserving and connecting California's Parks & Wildlife Corridors


Monday, September 10, 2007

Very Interesting Interactive Map Shows California Counties that Lost Population Due to People Moving Out (as opposed to births outpacing deaths)

Total people migrating into Los Angeles County

IN: 857,158
OUT: 1,258,120

NET MIGRATION -400,962 (Loss)

Meanwhile, in the "What are they...nuts? department, in August, the State's Department of Finance predicted that by 2050, the State's population will hit 50 million. The California Department of Finance predicts at today's rate:

Riverside County will grow from 1.5 million to 4.7 million
Los Angeles will grow from 9.5 million to 13.4 million
San Bernardino will grow from 1.7 million to 3.6 million
San Diego will grow from 2.8 million to 4.5 million
Orange County will grow from 2.8 million to 3.9 million


California Courts Do Not Accept the View that Growth Must be Accomodated at All Costs

From L.A. Times October 11, 2005

By Bettina Boxall

The 5-year-old CalFed program, which governs California's single largest source of fresh water, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, has been dealt a setback by a state appeals court that ruled that parts of the program's environmental review were inadequate.

The opinion, released late Friday, concluded that the review was too narrow because it failed to consider the effects of reducing water exports from the delta to Central and Southern California. The CalFed program was created to balance the state's water needs with protection of the delta, including its fish.

State officials were still reviewing the 224-page decision, but CalFed critics suggested the ruling opened the door to a fundamental rethinking of the program's plan to fix the delta's many environmental problems while simultaneously stepping up water deliveries.

"The implications are substantial," said longtime delta advocate Bill Jennings, chairman of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "It's certainly a huge victory that will perhaps dissuade us from continuing this headlong rush of increasing exports that have contributed to the delta's decline."

The ruling is just the latest problem for CalFed, a joint state- federal effort that has struggled for federal funding since its inception. This year it encountered stinging criticism from state legislators who said it was ineffective, and the Schwarzenegger administration has ordered a reevaluation of the program.

"We're in the middle of a restructuring and refocusing on how to best accomplish our goals, and this provides further guidance for that effort," said Keith Coolidge, spokesman for the California Bay- Delta Authority, which oversees CalFed. The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento upheld CalFed on a number of issues in the case, turning away challenges to other parts of its environmental review that were raised in a lawsuit filed by delta water agencies and the California Farm Bureau Federation.

But the panel said that when CalFed was reviewing various options for the delta, it should have considered the possibility of reducing water exports -- which help provide water to nearly two of every three Californians.

The state, a defendant in the suit, has said that given population growth andCalFed's mandate to improve water supplies, that option was not feasible.

Though the court wrote that "the record contains evidence that significant exports from the delta will be needed in the future to meet water demands inSouthern California," it went on to say that reduced exports could help meet CalFed's other goals, which include ecosystem restoration.

The appeals panel further suggested that if less water flowed south from the delta, there might be less growth and therefore less demand. "CalFed appears not to have considered, as an alternative, smaller water exports from the Bay-Delta region, which might, in turn, lead to smaller population growth due to the unavailability of water to support such growth," the judges wrote.

Officials of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which intervened in the case, said they were troubled by that argument.

"There's an assumption in this court's decision that if you reduce exports, you will reduce growth," said Metropolitan Vice President Tim Quinn. "If you look at the history of California over the last quarter of a century, that doesn't fit with facts. The State Water Project never got completed, yet we grew."

Metropolitan's general counsel, Jeffrey Kightlinger, said a separate case involving legal challenges to CalFed's federal environmental reviews was still pending, complicating the implications of the state ruling. He also pointed out that since the environmental reports were drawn up, CalFed had been reauthorized by Congress and the California Legislature.

"There clearly has been a legislative directive to go and do these projects, so there's a legal question as to whether you would even need this kind of[environmental] document," he said. "I don't think you're going to see acomplete revamping or rewriting of CalFed because the legislatures have said to move forward."

Editorial from L.A. Times 11/19/2005

FOR DECADES, WHENEVER California began running short of water to meet population projections, water engineers -- "visionaries," they were called -- brought in new supplies from hundreds of miles away. Los Angeles went to theOwens Valley and then the Colorado River and far Northern California. SanFrancisco had the audacity to build a dam and reservoir right in Yosemite National Park.

The days of building big dams and canals are long past. But even today, water managers are calling for pumping greater volumes from the stressed Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to meet projected growth in Southern California. Their axiom is that people will come whether there's enough water or not.

Now, finally, a court has challenged that mantra. The 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento has ruled that managers of the delta should balance the demands of water users with the demands of the environment. "Population growth is not an immutable fact of life," the court said in rejecting parts of an environmental impact study on the operations of CalFed, the joint state-federal program for managing the delta.

A key finding was that the impact study was insufficient because it explored various ways of increasing exports from Northern to Southern California, but it never considered reducing exports. Cutting exports would be one way to lessen the environmental degradation of the delta. In recent years, fish life has suffered an alarming decline in the delta as exports have reached record levels. Experts disagree about whether those two things are connected.

The state is seeking a rehearing of the case and may appeal to the state Supreme Court. A better course would be to revise the environmental impact study.

The court ruling comes at a time when many in government and the water industry are considering whether major changes are needed in the CalFed program. At the request of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Little Hoover Commission conducted a detailed study of CalFed, which on Thursday recommended an overhaul of the program's management structure. Water users have asked the governor to create a blue-ribbon commission to recommend changes. If he does so, it should be a small body put on a tight deadline.

State water experts recognize that California is moving into a new era. The periodic revision of the state water plan now being drafted by the Department of Water Resources forecasts a future in which new demands will be met by innovative supply mechanisms, including more sophisticated conservation programs, expanded programs to reclaim used water, increased water trades from farmers to urban areas and more "banking" of water in aquifers rather than surface reservoirs. The department also predicts water problems increasingly will need to be solved on a regional basis rather than with grand, statewide transfers.

The court ruling may be heresy to the water engineers. In fact, it's the new reality.

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