Feinstein's bill not great, but better
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's bill gives lots of money to some farmers, loosens regulations, defers collection of farm loans, and pumps water from emergency reserves.
"California" is in the bill's title but the bill includes Oregon, prompting other Western state governors to inquire, "What are we, chopped liver? We're dry too!" It gives the "governor" power to pronounce when the emergency is over. What if the drought keeps going?
The use of phrases "maximum quantity possible ... any possible way whatsoever ... greatest extent possible," or waiving legal requirements about naming funding sources, are scary powers to give politicians during election times.
It is instructive that agriculture and mining industries account for 1.5 percent of California's gross domestic product but command such monetary bailout power. Urban and non-agriculture industries account for 98 percent of California GDP and just 11 percent of California's total water usage but would get little water or money relief.
Perhaps better prior drought planning is needed?
However, Feinstein's bill is dramatically better than the House proposal that asks billions for dams that couldn't be ready in a decade.
Conservation is essential element
Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Emergency Drought Relief Act is a compromise with Republicans and corporate agriculture interests who have decimated a 60-mile long section of the San Joaquin River estuary, siphoned the Central Valley aquifer and are maneuvering to drain the Sacramento River and Bay Delta.
Better management of our water supply is needed to implement conservation measures, increase water-use efficiency and reduce waste, along with new infrastructure to use treated wastewater and desalinate saltwater.
California is going to get hotter and drier, so it is imperative for conservation of water to become the centerpiece of our water policies.
Feinstein's bill should implement residential, industrial and agriculture water conservation measures that would establish standards for protecting and conserving water, fulfill the basic clean water and sanitation needs of everyone and restore habitat with the natural flow of unpolluted water through estuaries, rivers and the Delta.
Must manage our water effectively
The real battle's between the Republican bill, Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act and Sen. Dianne Feinstein's California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2014. The fight is about drinking water, recreation, the environment and farmers.
Fresh water used to come all the way to Crockett but now stops in the Delta. You could take a boat to Fresno, now you can only go to Stockton. Farmers get 75 percent of California water; groundwater's disappearing due to farmers' overuse.
California relies on snowpack to store much of its water. However, reservoirs weren't designed to hold as much surface water as the state uses. Every time we have a drought it's the people that have to reduce water use. Farmers have been abusing their water rights by planting crops that use too much water, using improper water techniques and taking all the groundwater for free.
Farmers need better water management. Groundwater must be controlled. Home graywater rules need to be rewritten so we can use it to water outside gardens.
Incentives need to be given to homeowners and businesses to eliminate lawns and water-thirsty landscaping.