Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dutch expert offers advice on saving California's San Joaquin Delta

Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee interviewed a visiting Dutch official: …Scientists have advised California to prepare for 55 inches of sea level rise in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta by 2100. Protecting communities and the Delta freshwater supply, which serves 23 million Californians, will be a complicated and pricey task.

The Dutch have lived below sea level for hundreds of years. They've survived by building massive levees that are the envy of the world. Last week, a delegation from the Netherlands visited San Francisco and the Delta. One result is a planned September symposium in California on common challenges. On Thursday, The Bee interviewed Bart Parmet, director of the Deltateam for the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, during the delegation's stop in Sacramento.

…Do you have any thoughts about what we should do?

To me, this complex situation of conflicting interests, that's something that really needs to be tackled. In the Netherlands, we are used to doing things together. If we don't do it together, we drown together. So that's simple.

In the Netherlands, there will be a delta fund that will be fed by at least 1 billion euros (about $1.4 billion) per year (from income taxes). It's not a luxury, it's a necessity. And 1 billion euros is a real bargain to protect our country. Because the public was involved, it makes it easier for Parliament (to approve this).

So my advice, modest advice for California, would be to think about a delta fund, so you don't have to argue in the political arena about funds every year. Second: Try one water act or delta act in which you combine all the things you have on water and your delta. That will be a major task.

Sit together, talk about it. Confront people if they don't want to look into interests of other stakeholders. You really have to work together because it's too big an issue to think you can tackle it in the Delta alone or in the Bay Area alone. It's an issue of all California.

A broken levee (circa 1997) on the Sacramento River, US Army Corps of Engineers

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Little but truly a great service for the land!
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