Thursday, October 04, 2007

Rivers are a waste of water?

"The idea that we let millions of acre feet of water every year run to the ocean totally wasted is insanity," said GOP California State Assembly leader Mike Villines of Fresno.

California Republicans want to put a stop to the waste by building more dams so the water can be put to use by people. Democrats say the state should emphasize water conservation and underground storage instead of dams. Republicans are blocking progress on a water supply package unless it includes new dams, presumably to stop the insane waste of water by rivers.

I hate to be a partisan, but there's one side that really stuck foot in mouth on this issue.

Rivers have value, and water is good for more than sprinkling on crops. Are we so poor in spirit that we can't leave any water in rivers?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Read Michael Specter, The Last Drop, New Yorker, Oct. 26, 2006, pp 60-71.

Adina said...

For those who are poor in spirit, you don't need to make a spiritual argument. Gretchen Daily writes about "ecosystem services" - the economically valuable services performed by functioning rivers, watersheds and wetlands: water treatment, water supply protection, air quality, flood protection, fish, recreation and tourism. Even if you are a heartless homo economicus, you could see the argument that if the Delta dies, California will be economically poorer.

Question for you in the field - how much headway do you see the "ecosystem services" argument having?

Mark Powell said...

It's less about the message "ecosystem services" and more about times and places and methods of delivery.

We need good messages, and ecosystem services is one of them. If we frame it right and delivery as part of a good strategic opportunity, then ecosystem services is a great message.

By itself, ecosystem services is a bit dry, and not emotionally compelling. It needs to be made real, and applied to a hotly charged context to fire up action.

At least, that's how I see it. Good question.

Adina said...

Sure. And messages vary by audience. "Ecosystem services" is surely the wrong frame for television ads to persuade a broad audience. But it may be a useful frame for civil servants and business people who want persuasive evidence that restoring, say, the Delta ecosystem is a rational and prudent use of resources, not just a luxury for a few tree-huggers (fish-huggers??) that we can't afford.