I was completely ignorant of the unnecessary drowning deaths in the All-American Canal until this recent 60 Minutes report. It is shocking and sad.
For the past year, I have been listening to Paul Rodriguez and others in the Latino Water Coalition suggest (wrongly) that farm workers in the San Joaquin Valley are dieing because environmentalists and people like me support reduced water deliveries from the Delta that lead to some fallowed fields.
Here we have a farm water irrigation project that no one disputes is killing hundreds of Mexican immigrants, and the solution only costs $1 to $3 million. Where is the Latino Water Coalition? Where is the protest? Where is the march?
Just in case 60 Minutes got the story wrong (they have been known to flub reports on California water), I read the Imperial Irrigation District's response. They say they support safety features in the canal, but other water agencies are also responsible for the cost, not just them, and that 60 Minutes forgot to mention that the concrete lining saves enough water to irrigate a few thousand acres of land each year in addition to killing people. I am all in favor of measuring both benefits and costs, but I don't think that gets them off the hook. It looks to me like we could afford to spend $300 million to save some water, but not afford an extra 1% in cost to save hundreds of lives. Unbelievable.
OK fine, many water agencies share responsbility. ACWA, your members are responsible. Show some leadership and get them to solve this problem now! Don't let water conveyance kill any more innocent people in California. [Note: This paragraph has been lightly edited from original to say ACWA members are responsible and not ACWA itself in response to the comment below.]
Update: I was happy to see a report that Paul Rodriguez of the Latino Water Coalition canceled a show in Arizona and made a public statement condemning Arizona's new immigration law. As a latino leader in the water exporter community, it seems natural that he would step up to get something done about the All-American canal too.