Just in time for summer: Drought heats up California’s water war


Get ready for the main event.

And instead of having a ringside seat, you’re going to be in the ring fighting and fighting for your survival.

This is California’s final war.

It will make locals blast the canals and Los Angeles using trickery to steal water from farmers in the Owens Valley will look like a feast of love.

And if it all goes south – general conditions as well as actual water in the SoCal region – it will be a fight to stay alive.

The day has come when you consider 39.5 million people were blissfully unaware that this was not just a possibility, but inevitable.

California is experiencing a severe exceptional drought.

This is exceptional measured by below average rainfall levels and falling for three years.

Of course, there is still water in the half-full tanks.

But it is the beginning of the hot season.

As we siphon off reservoirs, there will be less and less carryover storage for next year.

A fourth year of drought will not bring them back next June even to the low levels they are currently at.

No problem, okay. We’ll just plant more straws in the ground.

Take a look at NASA images showing California’s aquifers that have shrunk incredibly over the past 50 years.

Stop in Corcoran, the town in the San Joaquin Valley that over the past 14 years has sunk 11 feet in some places.

There have been bouts of subsidence where the entire first floor of a two-story house has been swallowed up in a relatively short period of time.

Long story short, underground water sources are already dwindling due to over-pumping. Pushing more straws into the ground or sucking more through existing ones will make matters worse.

It’s a different kind of disaster.

It’s not a forest fire, an earthquake, a flood or even a hurricane.

He slowly sneaks up on you.

It’s not like a forest fire where you can wait until the last possible moment to evacuate.

In times of drought, waiting for disaster to befall you gives you no recourse.

When the wells dry up and the bottoms of the reservoirs are reduced to cracked cakes of dried mud, there is no way out.

This brings us to the challenge we now face.

Convince people to give up frivolous or unnecessary water consumption.

It is clear that rationing as defined by water consumption per person per household is virtually impossible to implement or enforce.

At the same time, there will be denial.

The grass will always be green, at least in front of most houses.

Water still flows when the faucet is turned on.

So what is the problem?

Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

There will then be a deviation.

We need to build more dams.

We need to rethink water rights.

We have to change the distribution of water.

We have to stop the growth.

All of these points may be valid, but it’s kind of like a firefighter asking if you have a smoke detector, left a candle burning, or have faulty wiring instead of dealing with the clear and present danger. may your house be engulfed in flames as they speak. .

Come to think of it, if the drought gets worse, it could get to the point where a call to 9-1-1 about your house fire could imply such a response.

So how is California – or more specifically cities like Manteca – going to inspire people to forego water use?

It’s not just an exercise for the sake of being an exercise.

The mandatory 20% reduction is designed to hopefully keep a cushion in place.

It is also a bet that certain factors that reduce water availability do not worsen beyond a certain point.

But if they do, the state is ready to go into 100% survival mode with a game plan to enforce a mandatory 50% reduction in water use.

Keep in mind that most of the easy and insane stuff is in place.

Low flow toilets.

Low flow shower heads.

Water-saving washing machines.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be used more effectively.

Yellow is soft can become the toilet mantra.

Shorter showers could become the norm.

Full loads in washing machines may be required.

There’s only one handy fruit left that can ensure the delay of the worst-case household water scenario of putting buckets under showerheads to reuse water for washing dishes.

This handy fruit is watering ornamental grass.

Even more specifically, it is the prevalence of non-native grasses unsuited to California’s Mediterranean climate.

They are sinkholes.

For the most part, these are eye candy. A manicured lawn with blades of grass cut so short they can scorch the roots in the California sun unless they are watered constantly does not feed anyone.

There are more water efficient ways for dust control and visual appeal.

The Leave It to Beaver front yard works well in the Midwest, East Coast, and South where it rains most days. Those same herbs imported here for the past 150 years could be the death of California as we know it.

We would be wise to stretch our water supplies. Great civilizations have perished due to the scarcity of water through misuse as well as the ebbs and flows of natural cycles over thousands of years.

The current ban on watering commercial, industrial and institutional ornamental turf with potable water must be enforced.

The addition of more ornamental grass in the front yards of new homes should be prohibited.

More responsible watering of existing residential grass must take place and be enforced.

And if the drought continues to worsen and supplies continue to dwindle, we will have to stop watering front yard lawns altogether.

The year 2030 will mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the six-year slow disaster known as the Dust Bowl triggered by a severe drought.

Unless you have no qualms about channeling the fame of the Joad family of Grapes of Wrath, you might want to start treating water like the precious commodity that it is.

This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at [email protected]


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