Farming in Callao

Monday, November 13, 2006

Snake Valley & Owens Valley

In Rhetoric debunked (11-8-06) Bill Roberts paints a lavish picture of Owens Valley. It makes one want to move there.

He starts out, "Inflammatory rhetoric is all the rage in water wars." So he intended to introduce some boosterism to counteract it. He says he lived briefly in Owens Valley about 25 years ago and wanted to go back and see the damage everyone bemoans. He was shocked to see it pretty much as it was 25 years ago, with areas of lush green. He claims to have talked to residents who gave a glowing picture of idyllic life in Owens Valley.

Most of the people he depends on for quotes are connected to chambers of commerce. It may be in their best interests to debunk the message of devastation and desiccation. They are paid to put the best face on their communities. Roberts, too, seems full of the spirit of boosterism both for a depleted Owens Valley and for the water grab. I am surprised he didn't nominate the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) for an ecology award. He seems to be poised to put SNWA on a pedestal for their water exportation scheme.

Roberts describes Owens Valley as "lush." Maybe there are lush areas. But it obviously cannot be the same place it formerly was with so much of its water exported over so many years. That doesn't make sense. And even a few isolated verdant spots is a far cry from widespread agriculture that I assume is gone or greatly diminished.

It is not as if he had lived in Owens Valley prior to William Mulholland's rape of the valley. Roberts briefly lived there after both surface water and groundwater exportation. It may well have looked similar in the 25 years between when he lived there and when he returned. That indicates the stagnant nature of the economy there, the lack of a vibrant future.

Owens Lake is one of the worst environmental problems in US history. Doctors in Owens Valley have documented much higher rates of respiratory problems than the national average, at much earlier ages. By some accounts, it is impossible to dust proof homes.

Mr. Roberts' anecdotal evidence about Owens Valley does not make those of us who live in Snake Valley ashamed to make connections to Owens Valley and SNWA's water exportation scheme. Just as Mulholland was a shill for Los Angeles, Las Vegas has its shills. They are getting increasingly shrill.

Future posts will cover the Snake Valley - Owens Valley connection in more detail.

Owens Valley Committee

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