Friday, July 20, 2018

Arizona mismanages water. Don't get smug about it, Bucky

You might have seen a long piece in The New York Times Thursday about Arizona's disappearing groundwater due to ridiculous law and industrial-scale agriculture, including this: 
In 2014, a Saudi Arabian-owned company, the Almarai Corporation, bought 10,000 acres in the town of Vicksburg, northwest of Sulphur Springs Valley, planting alfalfa to ship halfway around the world to feed Saudi cattle. Then, a United Arab Emirates farming corporation, Al Dahra, bought several thousand-acre farms along both sides of the Arizona-California border. These purchases were perfectly legal, but many residents felt these newcomers were essentially “exporting water.” 
That nugget from the Times story sounded familiar, as I'd referenced it in this 2015 post:
Water use and abuse, here and there  
Keep reading if you want to know why... Saudi Arabia is using Arizona desert groundwater to grow and harvest huge amounts of even thirstier alfalfa for shipment to dairy cattle operations in the parched Saudi desert.
Sounds crazy, right, but hold on Bucky and take in few home-state matters.

* If repeatedly cavalier use of water for commercial purposes grinds your gears, then consider that it's not uncommon for the Little Plover River right here in Wisconsin to dry up in summertime because heavy pumping by nearby big farms leaves the trout to die.

I've written about it more than once, and posted photos which originated with River Alliance of Wisconsin.

River Alliance of Wisconsin photos
Dead Brookie
* Water-for-business-growth underscores Foxconn's controversial pursuit of Great Lakes water diverted from Lake Michigan - - combined with a return to the lake of a portion after its use in proprietary, chemical-laden processes - - to produce liquid crystal display screens for televisions and other devices. 

*  Waukesha's separate diversion of Lake Michigan water always had a business-development component. 
Through a spokesman, business organizations in Southeastern Wisconsin had the same idea, as I noted in 2010:
“Waukesha… has the potential to serve as a template for responsible intra-basin diversions,” he said. “If you proceed from the premise that access to Great Lakes water is an economic advantage, it’s to our region’s advantage to draw who has access as broadly as possible. We want to be sure we are maximizing our regional advantage with the competitive advantage we were able to get in the (Great Lakes Water Compact).”
Opening the Great Lakes spigot to assist business was backed by metro home builders association leader Matt Moroney, a strong proponent of Great Lakes diversions expressed while serving as a member of a southeastern Wisconsin regional planning commission advisory body.

That advisory committee and the full seven-county commission endorsed Waukesha's proposed diversion and other region-wide draws of Lake Michigan water.

In comments submitted to a state legislative council several years ago, Moroney opposed the pending Great Lakes Compact which eventually was approved. It did establish barriers - -which are not insurmountable - -to certain diversions. 

The link contains Moroney's comments in full. This section has always caught my eye:
I have heard several arguments that being located next to the Great Lakes will become an economic advantage for Wisconsin in the years to come. However, if the water cannot be utilized for economic growth, being located next to the Great Lakes will put Wisconsin at an economic disadvantage. 
So it's not surprising that Moroney is Wisconsin's newly-appointed liaison to Foxconn, having progressed in Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' administration from Deputy Secretary of the DNR, to a senior Walker office position to the newly-created contact position for Foxconn.

Now I'm not saying that these examples are as concerning or egregious as is growing grain in the Arizona desert for export to Saudi dairies. 

But think about the diversion precedents Wisconsin is establishing in the region while none of the seven other Great Lakes states has made a diversion application.

And look also at our baffling tolerance for contaminated rivers, algae-polluted lakes and manure-laden drinking water, and you will see a corporate-friendly but unacceptably foul picture of water abuse come into focus right here.

Is 'We're not as reckless as Arizona' a worthy state slogan, let alone the guiding water management philosophy we really want?

1 comment:

Where's the ethics? said...

And, in 2013 when the DNR was under the command of the #1 and 2 appointees by Governor Scott Walker, Cathy Stepp and Matt Moroni, Waukesha was caught falsifying information in it's application to divert Lake Michigan water. Claiming the legal requirement the they must be without a sustainable source of potable water because of their current source, the deep confined aquifer was dropping 5-9' feet per yer according to Waukesha's internal well records. The USGS began independent monitoring in 2013 and discovered the aquifer had risen steadily over 100' since it's low in 1999.

Under these former associates of the home building industry, the DNR changed it's review of Waukesha's application from one of scientific review to meet the legal requirements of the Great Lakes Compact to a new mission of assisting Waukesha in getting the Application passed.

In my opinion, Waukesha's Application was always home building growth in the Town of Waukesha where wealthy Republican contributors could crank the money machine.

What would Scott Walker have done as President?

This guy must be voted out of office.