Sunday, December 6, 2009

California Water Myth #1: Delta Smelt Cost 40,000 Jobs

On Tuesday, the PPIC will release it's new report "California Water Myths" with a big event in downtown Sacramento. I have been very critical of PPIC's past water studies, but I think this one could be better and will reserve judgement until I see it.

I certainly hope the claim that "40,000 jobs have been lost for a 2-inch bait fish" is high on the list, if not at the top since it is usually the first "fact" cited by those who want to pump more water from the Delta. Congressman Radinovich was the latest to repeat this thoroughly discredited projection, but he is not alone.

There are now 3 University studies of Delta Smelt employment impacts (2 of which have been done at the request of water exporters). The lost job estimates are: 720 (Berkeley); 2,000(Pacific); and 5,000 (Davis). The number they keep referencing is 20x larger than the median estimate, and even 8x larger than the serially exagerrated UC-Davis job projections. [Update 12/9: The low Berkeley estimate is for an average water year and is not directly comparable. They say job losses would be higher in dry years like in the current year analyzed in the other 2 studies, and 0 in wet years.]

We (Pacific) will release a short report with our latest update of this number on Thursday, and do our part to correct this California Water Myth.

Update 12/8: I just had a chance to skim through the new PPIC California Water Myth report. Much better, although I think this is much too late in arriving and is likely to have little influence. I am still not going to let them off the hook for the 2008 report that endorsed the peripheral canal, because in that study the PPIC didn't practice what it preaches here. For example, where was the cost chart of alternative water supplies in the 2008 study. And why did you ignore all those ecosystem values that you are talking about in this new report? And why did you put peripheral canal is best strategy as the headline and emphasis of your 2008 press release if you think there are no silver bullets.


  1. Hey thanks for writing. I've been looking for information on the California water drought, and your blog gave me a little light on finding information and not just political buzz words.

  2. It doesnt matter the number of jobs lost. the fact is people are losing jobs for a stupid fish. humans, hard working california citizens with families are being punished for an animal that swims. valuing animal lives over human lives is utterly ridiculous. I love animals, but i dont think that people need to lose jobs over a 2 inch fish. only one job lost is enough to realize that this fish is not worth the effort.

  3. I seriously question the author's true expert knowledge on how many families and individuals are actually affected by the decision to cut off water to farms to protect a fish. He obviously approached this with a bias from get go, which leads me to question his agenda. If you want the facts, you look at this objectively and see what both sides are contending and weigh out what makes sense and what doesn't. You can't convince anyone that cutting off water to farms would not harm people's lives. Since Jeff's livelihood is in no way affected, he has no stake in any of this can offer a high handed assessment of the situation.

    I could care less about his accreditations and more about his sense of morality and rationale in problem solving. If it wasn't a serious problem affecting several people, they wouldn't be up in arms about it. And the produce from that region does have potential to affect the rest of us. So anything that destroys that concerns me and others greatly as does the impact on people how have worked hard all their lives and are having their livelihood threatened by the arrogance of Unversity elitists like the far left Jeff. Go walk a mile in their shoes Jeff and get back to us with proof you did and what you learned.

  4. Anonymous,

    If you can show a fact that is in error, please point it out. The studies are on our website. Also note that I have cited 2 other university studies that were actually paid for by Valley agricultural interests.

    I do not deny that there are significant impacts, and 2,000 jobs is not a small number. It is only sounds small compared to all the inflated rhetoric that has been thrown around. Beyond the jobs, there certainly is a lot of money at stake for interests on both sides of this argument, not to mention taxpayer money.

    I am not far left (and you can look up my record to prove it), and do not have an agenda other than to provide accurate facts about the Valley Economy. That is my job. In fact, unlike virtually everyone in this debate, I have not received a dime for any of this.

    Yet, I have been subjected to many unsubstantiated personal attacks from folks like you. Next time if you aren't going to address the substance of the post, please have the decency to reveal your identity.