It should be crystal clear now to anyone paying attention that politicians who support a dam at Temperance Flat have a keen disregard for the facts. They are carrying the buckets for agribusiness, not protecting the public interest. Dr. Joaquin Arambula, who represents the 31st District of the California Assembly, is one of a cadre of lawmakers who coauthored an op-ed piece published in The Fresno Bee in support of the dam. At best, these lawmakers are uninformed or merely disingenuous. At worst, they are hucksters hustling for the vested interests who got them elected. The list of lawmakers includes Jim Patterson, Frank Bigelow, Adam Gray, Devon Mathis, Heath Flora, Rudy Salas, and Anthony Canella. They all deserve to be voted out of office for being shamelessly deceitful, willfully ignorant, or just plain corrupt.
They claim that a dam at Temperance Flat will “directly and positively” affect the environment of the San Joaquin River, an outright lie that could only be told with a straight face by the most shameless of con men. They do not mention that the dam will wipe out a pristine riparian ecosystem and 5,000 acres of public land. They do not mention that the San Joaquin River is at the top of the list of the most abused and endangered rivers in the U.S.—because of the numerous dams already blotting out its ecosystems. They do not mention that the public will pay billions of dollars to drown our majestic land for the benefit of a few people with water rights: Taxpayers, in other words, will pay an arm and a leg to destroy another stretch of the river to provide socialism for the wealthy vested interests of the hydraulic brotherhood.
They claim that “aging [dam] facilities don’t have the capacity to keep up with our state’s population growth.” They do not mention that almost every drop of new water will go to the people who already have the water rights, not to growing urban populations. They do not mention that the State Water Resources Control Board has determined that there are no more water rights available on the San Joaquin River. In fact, according to the Friends of the River Fact Sheet, water rights on the river have been over-allocated by a stunning 861%. Our politician friends, in other words, do not mention that these property rights (in the form of water rights) would have to be taken away from established users before new users would see any new water. Yet these politicians claim that this trickle of new water will benefit so many different interests, from communities suffering from undrinkable groundwater, to environmentalists and resource managers, to farmers with depleted aquifers, and on and on.
Our politician friends claim that “Temperance Flat Dam will nearly triple storage capacity above Friant Dam and deliver water from the San Joaquin River to farms on the west side, ensuring higher and more reliable flows, and restoring the San Joaquin back to the levels and flows that once occurred naturally.” They do not mention that very little new water will be created by the dam, mainly because numerous dams along the river already capture and divert most of the water. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Central Valley Project (in other words, the agency that would oversee Temperance Flat Dam), only 21,000 thousand acre feet of new water would be created in dry years (drought being the normal condition in the Central Valley). Compare this 21,000 acre feet to the 300,000 to 600,000 thousand acre feet lost in the drought from aquifer collapse due to over pumping of groundwater in the South Valley, and the 7 million acre feet produced annually by Reclamation’s Central Valley Project. In uncommon wet years, about 60,000 to 90,000 acre feet of new water will be available to miraculously restore the flows of the San Joaquin River and deliver water to the west side, in addition to providing water for the users with the water rights on the east side.
Oddly, these politicians claim that the dam will play a key role in groundwater recharge when there is so little new water and no new water rights are available. This small amount of water will go to farms on the east side and the west side and restore the river back to flows that once occurred naturally and solve the groundwater crisis. These promises are on par with an attempt to sell a nonexistent bridge.
They also claim the dam will enhance flood protection downstream, but I can picture a different scenario. Three dams in a row, with a new dam right between two other major dams, enhances the chance for catastrophic dam failure. If an aging upper dam fails, the others could fall like dominoes.
We are being shamelessly lied to by people who should be representing the public interest. Instead they prevaricate for the top few percent, which is especially sad in the age of Trump when there was once still a glimmer of hope that our local politicians might not feed the public bold-faced lies on behalf of vested interests. With outright lies, with the omission of facts, with alternative facts, and with sheer make-believe, these politicians are selling the public a bill of goods—without even making much of an effort to sound truthful. They apparently believe that there is a sucker born every minute. Mr. Arambula, the good doctor, stepped forward to take most of the credit for this shabby attempt to trick the public. Obviously, just because a man is a doctor doesn’t mean he isn’t also either a fool or a liar. Unfortunately, the other lawmakers who support this con also fit into one of those two categories. Heed their names: Whether fool or liar, each one should be kicked out of office at the next available opportunity.