Letters for September 24, 2009

Letter of the week
Delta needs water

Re “The big suck” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, September 10):

[R.V.] Scheide’s perspective and wonderful reporting drove home the many complexities that face the California Delta. His experiences and expertise perfectly fit the situation, and he wrote with heart about the problems and the place, something sorely lacking in these debates.

However, Scheide’s ultimate conclusion is not shared by many on the Delta, and for a simple reason.

Wetlands are fascinating systems, historically, ecologically and now politically. We are awed by their complexities and ethereal natures, yet we try to box them and engineer them. We despair over their fragile states, yet build them to clean heavily polluted systems. And we express our most heartfelt beliefs that their water is a right and precious material, yet we pollute it and sell it away.

Now we add to our confused emotions [and] egos men and women who want edifices in their names and events in their honors. Besides, we are California, land of the Next Big Thing. But, what if the Next Big Thing is No Thing? What if the best answer for the Delta is to let it work—set back levees, for example, let rivers ebb and flood as they would, allow for greater downstream flow, cut back on water exports?

Scheide, like so many in this fight, has fallen victim to this California dreaming as well as the complexities that make up the Delta system.

The Delta is not plagued by a thousand dangers, just a handful, and only one big one in particular: The Delta needs x amount of water. People who take water from the Delta system need y amount of water.

The problem: We don’t know x, and we don’t know y.

Proponents of the peripheral canal do not look at this problem; they try to go around it. Literally. But just as no dam avoids impacts, no canal could avoid impacts, either. In fact, consider the peripheral canal a dam just as impactful in construction costs, land use, water storage, transport and downstream effects as any within the watershed.

Until we know x and y, we won’t solve our water problem; no peripheral canal will increase the amount of water, and shuffling water around the Delta will at best exacerbate the pollution problems it experiences from waters returning from the Central Valley.

Aldo Leopold said, “The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to keep all the pieces.” Let’s return a major piece to the Delta: more of its water.

Joshua Stark

Best reasons to visit Rancho Cordova

Re “Best of Sacramento” (SN&R Feature, September 17):

I was disappointed that your “Best of” [issue] lists the top three reasons to visit Davis, Roseville, Folsom, Natomas and Elk Grove, but failed to list the City of Rancho Cordova.

I do not know the criteria SN&R follows to create its categories, but I need to tell you that Rancho has plenty of good reasons to visit. My top three include the best river runs on the lower American, cool [Fourth of July] parties and the best sushi restaurant in the greater Sacramento area (Itsmo).

Samantha Olson
Rancho Cordova

Choose population or agriculture

Re “The big suck” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, September 10):

R.V. Scheide’s article on the Delta was enlightening; however, he left out one key point: We have enough water for double or triple California’s population, but we do not have enough water for our growing population and agriculture as it is presently practiced in our state.

About 80 percent of the developed water in California is shipped south for agriculture. Just a 10 percent improvement in water efficiency in agriculture will give us enough water to double our population needs.

But the supporters of the new multibillion-dollar peripheral canal will say, “Food grows where water flows. Don’t you need to eat?”

To which I say, “Yes, but I do not eat cotton.”

California has hundreds of thousands of acres of cotton on industrial megafarms. I like local food, but I do not care where my cotton is grown. Plus, cotton, not being a food crop, can be sprayed with heavy doses of all kinds of toxins which will be around to haunt us for years to come. Not to pick on cotton alone, there are other crops that can be more efficiently irrigated, too. Without these basic facts in mind, we can be fooled into approving this terribly destructive, expensive project.

Mike Savino

Death knell for the Delta

Re “The big suck” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, September 10):

It is hard to argue that growth doesn’t require water—well, you can’t: If you need to grow business and agriculture, you need water. And of all of the options available, I am also sure that on the balance sheets, the peripheral canal is the cheapest way to get water from where it is, to where development wants it to be.

There is also absolutely no way that anyone can make an argument that the Delta is not being irreversibly harmed by how much water is being currently being removed. The negative effects to the ecosystem are easily identifiable even to casual observers (with no degree in biology), like myself.

Yet every 10 to 20 years, along with news of the latest die-off or loss of species, we get repeated attempts to take even more water from the Delta.

When an average middle-school kid can see the damage that development and agriculture have done to the fragile ecosystem of the Delta, why are we even having a debate about carrying out an action that could very well collapse the system altogether?

This delicate system is at a crucial point now. If we build this canal, it will be the death knell of the system. If we decide to build this canal, we might as well drain the entire Delta, build enough concrete canals to ship all the water to the appropriate treatment plants, bulldoze the levees and start building tract homes alongside the canals on the remaining land. There is no middle ground; you can’t just kill the Delta “a little bit.”

Are we willing to let the Delta go away so that another Borders bookstore in a strip mall can flush their toilets?

The state of California has always been so proud of being at the leading edge of sustainability and green technology. How about this: If you can’t support your own development without harming anything else, don’t build it.

Mark Grexton
via e-mail

Try a new loop

Re “The big suck” by R.V. Scheide (SN&R Feature, September 10):

I think the author’s ultimate conclusion is irresponsible. One does not follow a course of action they know will ultimately make things worse simply because they can’t envision another solution.

Plus, this story fails to recognize the one factor that is driving these problems: population growth. If water is needed to farm more land to feed more people, that will increase the need to farm more land and feed more people. That’s what we in the sustainability field call a “negative reinforcing loop.” Trust me; we don’t want to experience the balancing loop that will eventually respond to that.

Kirby Armstrong

Flying fur at City Hall

Re “Under pressure” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Frontlines, September 10):

I’m sorry to see such a base individual has attained the office of mayor of Sacramento. As this article points out, [Mayor] Kevin Johnson is quite an egotist and really has no idea about city governance. Those council members who support him should be removed as he should. Let the fur fly.

Michael Mullen

Unbalancing act

Re “Balancing act” (SN&R Editorial, September 3):

I picked up your paper. I threw it in the trash. Glad it’s free. From reading “Balancing act,” it is clear you believe in servicing yourself.

Some day, you may face a death panel. It sounds like you think reality will not affect you. I think your observations of others show your stupidity. I’m 72 and I think pretty clearly without your drugs (the ones advertised so liberally in your paper). Like it or not, you are uninformed or like to shoot your mouth off with no substance. Someday you will be “Grandma,” and maybe someone will decide you are not worth keeping alive.

You love socialism? Move.

I watch Fox News instead of reading your foolish paper. I’m an independent voter; no one owns me. Yet I fall into your category of riled-up constituents because I pay attention, fill out polls and vote. Do you?

I think not, since you gave a pass to a president/movie star and did not vet him. He surrounds himself with illegal czars. Your kind, he would get rid of first. Did you serve your country, ever? Well, you certainly reap the benefits of service people. World War II, the country was unified, including working women, there was pride in the USA.

But people like you don’t deserve to live here.

Dorothea Falkenstien
Pollock Pines

Let ’em live with it

Re “Chemical consent” by Sena Christian (SN&R Frontlines, August 27):

If methyl iodide is dangerous to food and our health, how does it damage soil and water?

Before releasing toxic food to our kitchen tables, I suggest planting a test plot of fruit and vegetables. These crops would require the use of the fumigant as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The person(s) responsible for its approval shall eat the crops from this plot for three years, thus proving it safe.

We’ll see how fast approval happens.

B. Lou

Mooch away

Re “Wi-Fi mooching” by Katie McMillin (SN&R Sac 101, September 10):

We appreciate that you included us in your “Wi-Fi mooching” article. We’re very pleased to be an independently owned, local cafe that provides free (with purchase) Wi-Fi to the community.

We would also like to let readers know that they can take a look at or join our MySpace page at www.myspace.com/espressometro—some SN&R readers might even see themselves in our photo albums!

L. Ferns
Espresso Metropolitan