Time for bipartisan drought-coping measures | TheUnion.com

Time for bipartisan drought-coping measures

Other Voices
Ward Thompson

The recent letter proposing pipelines to bring water to California was intriguing, although I disagree that building more dams is "insane."

Investing in infrastructure to bring water from as far away as Alaska and North Dakota to "fill California reservoirs," as the writer suggests, would be economically pointless without expanding existing storage capacity.

Future generations may look kindly on our efforts to save salmon and other endangered species, but they will be amazed that we endangered the health and survival of our own species by allowing most rainwater to flow into the oceans. Saving the environment is great, but the future environment, not the disappearing one, should be of most concern.

Water engineering on the scale proposed would obviously be more costly than current political will could tolerate. But there could be ways to give it bipartisan palatability, as hinted at already in the LaMalfa-Garamendi Sites Reservoir Bill.

Aside from long-term economic flood- and drought-alleviation benefits, pipeline construction could be an employment-creating public works project. Too liberal? Then it could be assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers (already in the business), which would have to be significantly expanded, offsetting some of the troop cuts currently being considered and mitigating the proposed defense budget reduction, so alarming to conservatives.

This latter option could also open the way to reinstituting universal military service, but as a noncombat draft, helping to restore the sense of patriotism and support for traditional national values that many Americans perceive to be in decline.

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The letter suggested that someone push the pipeline idea. One place to start would be to get local political party chapters to propose 2016 platform language addressing the issue and to engage those legislators of both parties who are beginning to look for bipartisan drought-coping measures.

Ward Thompson lives in Penn Valley.

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