Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Spare

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While attending a Delta Stewardship Council meeting in Chico last week, I was reminded how large, diverse and practically ungovernable California is.

The council was seeking early comments on an overarching plan, due by the end of the year, for managing the Bay Delta. Throughout the session, residents and landowners from the region spoke about “our” water and the need for the rest of the state’s farmers and cities to change their ways.

The four members of the appointed council who attended the hearing showed remarkable patience, I thought. The Chico meeting marked the council’s seventh such hearing over nine days in various parts of the state. What the council heard over and over is that someone else needs to give. In Chico, the council heard that farmers in the San Joaquin Valley should grow different crops. Some farmland south of the Delta should be fallowed. Cities in the Bay Area and L.A. should stop approving new development.

Chairman Phil Isenberg, a former Sacramento mayor and state assemblyman, was diplomatic but made it clear that everybody thinks their region and their issues are most important and that people elsewhere could not possibly feel as passionate as they do. Isenberg was not critical, he was simply stating an observation. And I can tell you from reporting extensively on the subject of water over many years that entirely reasonable people in Southern California consider those of us in Superior California (I like that term so much better than “the Northstate”) to be water hogs. They’re quick to point to large-scale rice farming and neighborhoods heavily landscaped with exotic plants that remain lush throughout 100-degree summers as evidence that we’re wasting water that could be put to more productive use.

It all depends on your perspective, which was exactly the point Isenberg tried to make ever so gently.

“I’d like to get everybody from different parts of the state in the same room so they can ask the same questions,” Isenberg said.

The Delta Stewardship Council, which was appointed last year, has only another 11 months to finish the master Delta plan. The entire Sacramento River watershed and, because of the state’s complicated plumbing, the Trinity and Klamath river watersheds could be implicated in that plan. Follow along if you dare on the council’s website, www.deltacouncil.ca.gov.

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• Crab for a cause … The Shasta Women’s Refuge 24th annual crab feed is scheduled for 4 p.m. this Saturday, February 5, at the Shasta District Fairgrounds in Anderson. All-you-can-eat Dungeness crab is the big attraction, but you’ll also get chowder, salad and dessert. The no-host bar will be pouring margaritas, and there will be live music. Tickets cost $40 and it’s best to get them right away.

• Big bucks … The Redding Rancheria Community Fund recently announced the award of $86,000 in grants to 30 local organizations and government entities. The largest amount, $8,350, went to Shasta Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation for a new heating and cooling unit. Some of the other awards: $5,000 each to Cascade Union and Igo-Ono-Platina school districts for smartboards; $5,000 to Shasta County Chemical People for Friday Night Live and other educational programs, $4,500 to Val Verde Elementary School for a school yard garden, and $2,500 to the Golden Umbrella senior citizen program for exercise equipment.

• Get involved … Shasta County’s Public Health Advisory Board is seeking applicants for two vacancies. The board meets every other month. You may read up on the board and find an application at the Health and Human Service Agency’s website. The deadline to apply is February 11.

shigley-mugshotPaul Shigley is senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a frequent contributor to Planning magazine and is currently at work on a book about “Delta urbanism.” He lives in Centerville. Paul Shigley may be reached at pauls.anewscafe@gmail.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment.

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has been a professional journalist since 1987. For 12 years, he served as editor or senior editor of California Planning & Development Report, a statewide trade publication for land use planners, real estate development professionals and attorneys. Prior to that, he worked as a reporter or editor at newspapers in Redding, Grass Valley, Napa and Calistoga. Shigley's work also has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Planning magazine, Governing magazine, California Law Week, National Speed Sport News and elsewhere. In addition, he is co-author of Guide to California Planning, a college text and reference book, and is currently working on a book for the American Planning Association about the Bay Delta and California water resources. A graduate of California State University, Sacramento, Shigley has contributed to A News Cafe since 2009. He and his wife, Dana, live in western Shasta County.
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