by David Taub

The executive director of Save the Bay, a Northern California environmental group, says water that Central Valley farmers use is too cheap, and more should flow to the San Francisco Bay. Dave Lewis made the comments during KCBS radio’s “In Depth” program this past weekend.

Save the Bay

Save the Bay executive director Dave Lewis

During the long form 30 minute interview, Lewis defended environmental protections for the bay, including pollution and developmental controls. He also advocated for diverting less water to farmers and more for helping salmon.

Regarding the proposed State Water Control Board’s plan to pump less water for farmers, Lewis agrees he would like to see it go for environmental uses.

“In the Delta, there are two big straws that suck out all the water,” Lewis told host Jane McMillan. “Those straws need to suck out less water and be allowed to flow in to the Delta and to the Bay.”

Lewis also harped against Governor Jerry Brown’s twin tunnels plan, saying the water is needed to preserve salmon.

“The cost of sending that water to farms is not really reflected in the price we pay for food. When we subsidize water for a particular use, we make that less expensive. We make it more affordable to grow almonds, kiwis and cotton and other water intensive crops than it should be. We can use that water for less water intensive crops. We may pay a little more for almonds, we may pay a little more for table grapes.”

Lewis continued with his thoughts on water supply.

“We’ve already screwed up the natural market forces by subsidizing water by making it cheap instead of as valuable as it is. The fish don’t have wallets to pay for more water when they are not getting enough water. That is where the imbalance is. That is what we need to rectify.

“It will take money. Money to subsidize environmentally beneficial things, not environmentally detrimental things.”

The interview can be heard at KCBS.

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