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Illegal immigrants take water, too

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Posted: Friday, August 8, 2008 10:00 pm

After two weeks in Pittsburgh, one thing stands out: everything is green.

All around me - the trees, grass and rolling hills - is magnificently lush. In June, Pittsburgh had a record rainfall. And through August, there's been just enough rain to keep things verdant.

Here in Pennsylvania, we're not worried about water. We we're not choking on the smoky air that's engulfed northern California for most of the summer.

Californians will most certainly be paying more for water in the near future. And before too many more years pass, save for the possibility of a series of major winter storms, your access to water will be rationed. Not us, though. We've got plenty.

Driving away from California and crossing through the western part of Nevada, a gray haze followed us. But by the time we got to Utah, skies cleared. Then in Nebraska, the rain started. And it continued through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and then followed us into Pennsylvania.

To be sure, listening to heavy rain while you are curled up in your bed at night is peaceful. But it is an altogether nerve-rattling experience if you are negotiating heavy interstate traffic.

Nevertheless, the rain is refreshing. I've lived in Puerto Rico and Seattle, so I am no stranger to it.

Water, or the lack of it, is an increasingly hot topic in California politics.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger would like to dupe you into voting for a $9.3 billion bond issue that he proposes by using the typical politicians scare language like "the state is in a crisis," predicting that another dry season would be "devastating" and, my favorite, "What is needed is a comprehensive, statewide plan - and we must move swiftly."

I'm all for a comprehensive plan. The problem is that Schwarzenegger, and all the state's other elected officials, want only to put forward a partial plan that depends exclusively on your money but not at all on sound government policy.

Here's what I mean. It's really very simple.

People use water. The more people who live in the state, the more water will be consumed. Currently, California's population is 38 million, the nation's largest.

Ten years ago, in what now seems like the good old days, demographers projected that by 2050 California would have 50 million residents.

But today, that's just wishful thinking.

According to California's Department of Finance, the state's inhabitants will exceed 50 million by 2032 and reach 60 million by 2050, an upward adjustment of 10 million!

Applying the same percentage increase to Lodi means that the city's 2060 population will be about 95,000 people. In San Joaquin County, more than a million will be struggling over increasingly scarce resources.

The greatest population growth will occur in Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties, already the state's densest areas where the least rain falls.

Good luck to you all.

If Schwarzenegger were as serious as he claims about "a comprehensive solution," he would address California's population as it impacts water usage. And any analysis of people and water has to include the approximately 300,000 illegal aliens who arrive in the state each year.

Obviously, they drink water, shower, cook and wash their cars. And while enlightened and environmentally aware Californians try to limit their water consumption, that may not be the case with aliens who might not be either as aware or as concerned.

Nevertheless, Schwarzenegger insists that it would be a "big mistake" to blame illegal immigrants for any part of California's $15 billion budget deficit or its water crisis.

One is left to conclude that Schwarzenegger would argue that aliens don't consume water.

If Schwarzenegger's bond proposal reaches the ballot, I urge all Californians to reject it. The measure would only impose additional taxes on an already over-taxed state.

Like the school bonds that many Californians have foolishly voted for over the years that have not ended the school shortage, a water bond represents only a partial solution.

The underlying problem is population. Too many people will always mean too few schools and too little water.

Cut Schwarzenegger off at the pass. Write to him to demand that he order a comprehensive evaluation of California's social woes that includes an honest analysis of illegal immigration's impact on the state budget deficit and its water shortage.

Joe Guzzardi, a native California bearish on the state's future, recently retired from the Lincoln Technical Academy and, with sadness but conviction, moved to Pittsburgh. Reach him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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