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California Voters Want More Water and Less Bullet Train

California Voters Want More Water and Less Bullet Train

New drought plans needed after “Godzilla El Niño” turns out to be a dud.

Less than a year ago, climate scientists were heralding the “Godzilla El Niño,” which would generate historic rainfalls that could help alleviate California’s mega-drought.

Climate reality has failed to confirm climate theory, as the term “dud” is now being used to describe the weather pattern.

Is this El Niño a dud?

Sacramento is in the peak of its rainy season, but there is no substantial rain in the forecast for the next two weeks. The Sierra snowpack has fallen below normal levels for this time of year. The state’s three largest reservoirs remain far below capacity.

Whither El Niño?

Throughout the summer and fall of 2015, California residents waited in anticipation as they heard about the strong El Niño weather pattern brewing in the Pacific Ocean. We remembered the winters of 1997-98 and 1982-83, when such strong El Niños corresponded with deluges. And we hoped for relief from our long, brutal drought.

But through Feb. 20, Sacramento has seen half the precipitation that occurred by this point in 1997-98 and 1982-83.

At this point, it looks as if California is going to have to continue implementing a wide array of water-saving measures, which include “cash-for-grass” and drought-shaming neighbors.

However, courtesy of our proposition system, Californians may get a chance to divert funds from a loser project into sensible infrastructure construction that may actually alleviate some our state’s water crisis.

The measure would redirect $8 billion in unsold high-speed rail bonds and $2.7 billion from the 2014 water bond to fund new water storage projects, while restructuring the oversight of those projects and prioritizing water usage in the state Constitution — a move critics say will be confusing and prone to legal challenges.

Proponents of the measure are trying to capitalize on the unpopularity of the high-speed rail project and the popularity of the water bond to substantially boost the funding for water storage projects, which they say weren’t adequately funded by the 2014 bond.

“What this initiative does is pick up where (the water bond) left off and fully funds the other necessary projects that are widely accepted as needing to be done,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, the executive director of the California Water Alliance. “There’s no new projects listed in our initiative.”

Fiscal realities of the project have also not lived up to rose-colored projections, and after facing high construction costs and political opposition in Southern California, the state has decided to build the first 250-mile section of the California bullet train from San Jose to Bakersfield (rather than from Fresno to Burbank).

Rail officials also say the latest cost estimate for the entire 500-mile project has been reduced from $68 billion to $64 billion, well below the $98 billion projection from several years ago, but still far above initial estimates of less than $40 billion.

The business report states that the change in the initial segment will avoid expensive tunneling and viaduct construction though the geologically complex Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains, where several potential routes have been proposed through the Angeles National Forest.

A Stanford University Hoover Institution poll found that 53% of voters would approve of shifting the rail bonds to water projects.

I suspect that number will increase substantially, as the realities of the continuing water crisis impress people more than bureaucratic theory.

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Comments

Victor Davis Hanson has written extensively on the decades long decay of the interior of California from some of the world’s most productive farmland into a barren wasteland ressembling a 3rd world h3ll hole.

One has to wonder if it’s not by design. Either that, or the looney toon leftists in Sacramento are simply that corrupt and incompetent…

Now, I realize that it’s California, and the laws of the physical universe have been repealed there, but still …

The measure would redirect $8 billion in unsold high-speed rail bonds and $2.7 billion from the 2014 water bond to fund new water storage projects

How is even California going to fund a project with no money? An unsold bond is nothing—zilch—a piece of paper which isn’t even paper money, or even an I.O.U. It is real to an accountant, doubtless, but only in the same sense that an “imaginary” number is real to a mathematician, or an electron which isn’t there is real to a semiconductor physicist. So far as cash is concerned, an unsold bond has as much actual value as a promise that the check isn’t in the mail.

Perhaps it makes sense if one imagines that Cali will build storage facilities with imaginary money, and then declare that this new storage is full of water which doesn’t exist, either. Problem solved!

We moved from California when it became apparent the people there were too stupid to live. They reelected Jerry Brown, the person who got them in the public pension plan mess in the first place. Living there became sheer hell as I watched my taxes go up and up and services go down and down. Brown’s reelection was the last straw. I no longer felt safe in my own home, the grocery store two blocks from my house had an armed guard at night and only one door in and out. Stuff was stolen out of our garage while we were home in broad daylight and parts of the town I lived in became no-go zones. Costco was a cacophony of foreign languages and people rudely jostling you as you looked at things. We moved to Idaho. I miss my kids and friends and the beautiful state that California once was.

we’ve had less than 6 inches of rain total so far this winter…

El Nopeo is more like it.

    JimMtnViewCaUSA in reply to redc1c4. | February 26, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    We’ve had decent rain, much better than prev years.
    But isn’t next year going to be a La Nina? In which case the rain will go away again.
    I long for the chance to scuttle the train and redirect the money.

    If you live in CA, by all means consider getting on the email list for HJTA.org (Howard Jarvis Prop 13 group). They send out a weekly email and inform readers on issues related to taxes in CA. Educational!

Trust me: This El Nino is not a dud.

A “normal” El Nino slams California with rainfall, while Oregon and Washington get a warmer, drier season than usual.

This time around, Washington, Oregon, and Northern California are getting slammed by “historic rainfall”, and British Columbia is getting a warmer, drier season.

The El Nino effect is going strong; it’s just shifted a few hundred miles to the north.

(BTW, SoCal should be so happy they’re not getting this rain; they don’t have the storm drainage to handle it. Which would you rather: another dry year, or epic flooding?)

    redc1c4 in reply to Archer. | February 26, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    LOL… a drop of rain that falls in the San Gabriels can be in the Pacific Ocean in about an hour…

    the one thing we have here in SoCal is flood drainage.

    the one thing we don’t do is save much of the water. other than localized street flooding, we;er good, just stupid.

    Spiny Norman in reply to Archer. | February 26, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Which would you rather: another dry year, or epic flooding?)

    We haven’t had “epic flooding” here is decades. As red notes, we have more than enough “drainage”, just no way to capture it.

El Niño hasn’t been a dud for us. Our snowpack is 107% of the 30 year median. This has been our wettest year in the last 10 years, bringing most of our state out of drought conditions. It’s nice for a change not to have to worry about the horrific wildfires of the past decade.

    redc1c4 in reply to Sanddog. | February 26, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    until all the new growth that moisture causes drys out this summer…

    it’s what they call a mixed blessing

    😉

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