Presentation on theme: "California as hydraulic empire – fact and fiction California has become worlds 9 th largest economy, in part, because of opportunities afforded by water."— Presentation transcript:
California as hydraulic empire – fact and fiction California has become worlds 9 th largest economy, in part, because of opportunities afforded by water resources development. Political & economic history shaped by water and its constraints (Hundley, 2002). Whats the significance of Californias experience? How have we managed water? What have we learned? Can we solve our current water policy challenges?
Evolution of California water policy Pre-Spanish-exploration period (until 1770s): Hunter-gatherer population – evidence suggests Native American tribes generally understood seasonality; relied on coastal resources. Symbiotic relationship with nature (e.g., Gabrielino tribes). Claims to water were forcibly taken after conquest; continued when California became a U.S. state (1850). Today – numerous tribal suits against cities, utilities to force settlement of Indian water rights claims under Winters Doctrine (1908): U.S. Supreme Court ruling stated: when the federal government established tribal reservations, it implicitly, set aside sufficient water for tribes.
City of Los Angeles agreed, in 1939, to provide, in perpetuity, 4350 acre/feet of water per year to three reservations - Bishop, Big Pine and Lone Pine Tribes. Problem? City and tribes cant agree over what lands in the valley should be considered tribal and, thus, eligible for water, and how water would be divided among tribes. Water rights are central issue of negotiations between these tribes and the City of Los Angeles.
Spanish & Mexican traditions (1770s – 1848) Conquest legacy – natural resources & native population expected to conform to royal custom/centralized authority: Control of water left to monarchy/emperor and agents of crown. Rancho tradition – large landholdings linked to towns, co- existing with the church, protected by the military. Water viewed by Spanish as a community right: Conflicts adjudicated in the interest of balancing all components on social life. Prior community use took precedence over individual rights.
Original land-holdings (Ranchos) of Los Angeles region
Rancho -Large estates: divert water for agriculture; self-regulating; controlled their own supply Mission -Under Spanish: original settlements -Provided social control, early economic outposts; -Developed independent water/irrigation systems Presidio - Military outpost -Enforce royal water laws & adjudicate conflict between ranchos, pueblos, missions; sought accord & harmony Pueblo (town) -Merchants, traders (Latino & Yankee) - Granted rights by monarchy to regulate/use water for public supply; mills; livestock, orchards Water management Water management under Spanish-Mexican legal system
Mission La Purisima Concepcion* – zanja or irrigation ditch for watering orchards and grain fields *Between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo
U.S. era water of management in California (post-1848) Statehood and economic transformation (1848 – 1900): Hydraulic mining, agriculture, urbanization – frenzied development; adverse impact to rivers, hills; erosion & sedimentation in rivers, landscape alteration. Demands for rationalizing policy – California doctrine (1886): Riparianism applied where permanent settlement led to land title (e.g., large agriculture holdings in Central Valley, ranchos in S. California). Prior appropriation where water was diverted before permanent land claims made (e.g., mining regions). Led to gradual end to reckless water use; few, large monopolistic land holdings; urban water sovereignty.
U.S. era of water management (after 1900) Hydraulic empire (1900s– 1960s): Urban growth/intensive agriculture – large diversion projects; urban aqueducts –movement of water from north to south; flood control projects. Combination of federal/state funding; local entrepreneurship. Large dependence on fixed infrastructure to move and manage water – often important, but not a panacea.
Some examples of fixed water infrastructure Water storage Flood control Water diversion
Californias plumbing system – an overview of water infrastructure Red = State Water Project. Yellow = Agriculture-related water projects; Central Valley, Tehama- Colusa, All-American Canal). Green = urban water projects; Los Angeles, Colorado River, Hetch Hetchy, East Bay Aqueducts.
A schematic of water diversion – California style
Lake Oroville – Feather River 3.5 million acre/feet of storage– key component of State Water Project
Lake Oroville (2008) – approx. 50% of capacity
Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta Receives runoff from 40% of states land area & 50 % of its total stream-flow. Heart of states N-S water-delivery system. State and Federal contracts provide for export of up to 7.5 million acre-feet per year. 83% of water used for agriculture; rest for urban uses in central and southern California. More than 20 million people get drinking water from the Delta.
Sacramento River delta levee – near Isleton Portion of breeched levee on Sacramento River (1997)
Cross-sections through delta "islands" showing the pre- development natural levees and the post-development constructed levees. Image by USGS. Why flooding is a problem in the Delta
State water project - aqueduct -- N. California link providing water for 755,000 acres of farmland and public supply for 23 million. -- Efforts to move water from this and Colorado River aqueduct (and to treat water, statewide) uses 20% of states electrical power.
California Aqueduct and E-side canal – Near Bakersfield
Major water utility/irrigation districts in California
Agriculture -Farms -Local irrigation districts -Divert/store/sell water for agriculture, other uses. State, federal agencies - Bureau of Reclamation/Corps of Engineers; EPA -CA DWR, CA EPA -Provide water supply; abate floods; provide navigation/ power; enforce water quality regulations & adjudicate markets. Water management Water management under U.S. and California water law Cities, urban utility districts -commerce, industry, residential use -Buy/sell water -Regulate transfers -Maintain infrastructure.
Myth vs. reality in California water management* *From: Myth vs. Reality in California Water Management (2009)
What have we learned? Some preliminary observations May need to change our assumptions about growth and water use: Does population/economic growth drive water demand? OR, does inexpensive, subsidized water spur population and growth of some activities? Recognize that agriculture serves international needs and while using much water, also provides much benefit. Recognize that, relatively speaking, cities use the water they have relatively efficiently. Resist pressures to move more water from environmental in-stream flow needs to agriculture and cities – emphasize greater water-use efficiency and recycling. We need to consider the importance of water in everything we do: it must become a cost of doing business.