The concern about water shortage seems to be growing with the passing of each dry day.
More like scared.
Scared because California appears to be in a drought and we don't have enough reservoirs from which to draw. As of Dec. 24, 85 percent of the state had experienced severe or extreme drought conditions. The year 2013 was one of the driest on record in California. Anyone who has driven past San Luis, Don Pedro or McClure reservoirs might want to rethink their wasteful water practices.
It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that it hasn't appreciably rained in the Valley for some time. That means city officials in the Valley will be beating the drum harder about water conservation and water will be talked about in discussions if and when new development occurs.
I remember the drought we had in the 1970s here in the Valley with constant reminders that we needed to conserve water. I recall one rather crude and crass saying preached to us students in school: "If it's brown, flush it down. If it's yellow, let it mellow." Gross and obscene, yes. Just as obscene as not building new places to store water when we need it most.
The reason we build water storage is because rainfall does not always fall when it is supposed to (like now) nor does it always fall evenly on the surface of the earth. When we have dry times, (like we do now) we must have a supply of water on hand or else we die. So we build reservoirs so all of the water from melting snow pack does not flush out to the Pacific Ocean where it does us people on land no good.
We sure hear cries of conserve, conserve, conserve and that's all fine and good but the other part of that equation has me and others baffled. Why aren't we hearing any talk about building more storage?
I recall State Senator Anthony Cannella held a Ceres town hall meeting in August where he said that he supported Gov. Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build twin tunnels under the Delta to allow some Sacramento River water to bypass the environmentally stressed Delta on its way to the head of the California Aqueduct near Tracy. The tunnels would help avoid impacts to the Delta smelt. Cannella wanted to leverage his support in exchange for serious discussion about developing more reservoirs and dams in California.
"We've got to have more storage," stated Cannella. "There's like a Holy Jihad against water storage. I don't understand it. I really don't get it."
Of course we should all "get it." California is the most radically environmental state in the union. Valley lawmakers have known all along that we need to build more dams and reservoirs in the state but the Democrats in Sacramento seem to be whistling with hands in the pocket and rolling their eyes around in avoidance of the matter. The last dams built in this part of the Valley were in 1971 (Don Pedro) and San Luis (1967) as started under good old Democratic Gov. Pat Brown.
The last referendum on water storage came in November 2012 when the nonsensical environmentalists had voters of San Francisco weigh in on a Proposition F to blast the O'Shaughnessy Dam at Hetch Hetchy to smithereens and search elsewhere for water. Fortunately, 77 percent of SF voters realized that the idea was as SF Mayor Ed Lee declared -- "really stupid." For one thing, proponents were handy to justify spending $10 billion to dismantle a perfectly good dam and destroy a dependable source of water. For another thing, nobody identified where 2.4 million people were going to find a new municipal water source.
California desperately needs leaders in Sacramento to get going on developing more water storage projects. While there are plans to raise both San Luis Reservoir and Shasta Dam for more water storage it's estimated that California needs one to two million more acre-feet of additional storage. And given how long studies and plans take, California cannot afford to wait. We needed those dams yesterday.
U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, former mayor of San Francisco who understands that Californians need water, recently stated "Expanding and improving California's water storage capacity is long overdue. The last time we saw significant state and federal investments in our water storage and delivery system was in the 1960s, when the state's population stood at 16 million. ... If we don't take significant and rapid action, I fear California is at risk of becoming a desert state."
But environmental groups and their lobbyists' dollars, stifles the debate. There are proposals to build an off-stream Sites Reservoir in Colusa County, and a dam at Temperance Flat west of Auberry. Temperance Flat would quadruple storage in the San Joaquin River basin above Friant Dam. Together the two projects would add another 3.1 million acre-feet to the already 41 million acre-feet of storage. Environmentalist bristle because the proposed reservoir would drown between five to 15 miles of the San Joaquin River, which includes scenic canyons, whitewater rapids and historic and cultural sites, as well as reducing the water flow to sensitive Delta habitat.
High costs are used as an excuse for not building more storage. The Sites project would cost $3.6 billion. Raising Shasta Dam by 18 feet would cost $1 billion but could yield an estimated annual new water supply of just 60,000 acre-feet (AF) on average. But let's put things in perspective. Why is it okay to spend $6.4 billion on a new Oakland Bay Bridge but not but two new dams for the same cost that benefit more than just Bay Area population? Indeed, do not Valley grown crops not only feed California but the world as well?
We all know the value in keeping California as wild and as beautiful and natural as possible. But there is a need for reason and compromise. We need water and we need it now. Anyone who does not understand that should not be tolerated by the electorate.
How do you feel? Let Jeff know at email@example.com