When it comes to water conservation, California hides its head in winter snow.
Future generations will not look favorably on our leadership’s utter failure to strategically address the state’s water shortages, which will only worsen with climate change.
Two years of some of the worst droughts in state history haven’t slowed Big Ag’s demands for more water. Meanwhile, urban users are nowhere near heeding Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call to voluntarily reduce their water use by 15% from 2020 levels.
On Tuesday, the state reported that the statewide reduction was only 6.8% in November, compared to November 2020. Bay Area residents met the target of Newsom, reducing water consumption by 20.2%. But residents of Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties increased their water use by 0.8%.
In a classic example of too little, too late, the California State Water Resources Control Board will finally impose mandatory water restrictions, starting January 15, including fines of $ 500 for wasteful practices such as washing water. cars without a hose stop nozzle, watering sidewalks or watering grass within 48 hours after rain.
But the National Water Board did not include agriculture in its conservation announcement, even though farmers use about 75% of the state’s available water.
Rather, the water council is poised to forgo the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta’s crucial environmental standards to satisfy Big Ag’s thirst for more water in 2022. That could lead to a repeat of the water debacle. year in which, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, high water temperatures wiped out 98% of the entire endangered chinook salmon outbreak in winter. The warm temperatures resulted from the state’s decision to provide additional deliveries of water from the Sacramento River to the Central Valley.
Officials at the Water Board never seem to learn from their past mistakes. Meanwhile, heads of state remain paralyzed.
California has made no significant progress in solving its water problems since 2007, when the government of the day. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced a twin tunnel project under the delta that would export water south. Neither he nor Governor Jerry Brown could muster enough political support for the ill-conceived strategy or a scaled-down version.
Newsom wasted three years in power hoping to get a “voluntary deal” on river flows that would be acceptable to everyone. No significant progress has been made, despite drought conditions that have drained California reservoirs to appalling levels.
Yes, December’s record snowfall brought 15 feet of snowfall to the Sierra, and October rains drenched towns from northern to southern California. But three months has not erased two years of severe drought as most of the state’s large reservoirs still remain well below normal levels. The forecast for the rest of January looks dry, state water officials said, and if this continues, California could easily end up with what would be considered an average rainy season.
Beyond this winter, a study by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory published in November predicted that the snowpack in the Sierra and Cascade ranges could decrease by up to 45% over the next 30 years.
California won’t come close to meeting the needs of future generations if it continues to sit idly by as its water supplies dry up.