Another California Drought with No New Reservoirs
Drought and monsoon are chronic and predictable contrasting California weather patterns. Now, it’s drought time again. From a CNN story:
About 98% of California is currently experiencing drought conditions, according to the US Drought Monitor, with nearly 75% of the state seeing extreme drought conditions. Droughts have been intensifying, especially in the West and Southwest US, according to the latest National Climate Assessment, with climate change playing a key role in the scarcity of water in the West.
“With the reality of climate change abundantly clear in California, we’re taking urgent action to address acute water supply shortfalls in northern and central California while also building our water resilience to safeguard communities in the decades ahead,” Newsom said in a statement. “We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment, and call on all Californians to help meet this challenge by stepping up their efforts to save water.”
Dealing with both too much and too little water — depending on the year — requires reservoirs to catch water in times of flood and store it for the times of drought. It’s not that complicated.
But California environmental policy has prevented any new reservoirs from being built for years — no, decades — despite a huge increase in the state’s population. As I explained last year over at the Acton Institute:
In 1979, California’s population was a little more than 23 million. Today, it is more than 39 million. Yet in that entire time, California did not construct one additional, large-scale water storage project – meaning water infrastructure that once suited the state’s irrigation, livestock, and human needs has become chronically inadequate to meet its essential tasks.
The Bible tells us that Joseph was told by the Lord to store food during the seven years of plenty in preparation for seven years of famine. That’s the kind of water pattern California experiences predictably. And yet, there have been no new large-scale water-storage/flood-control projects completed in over 40 years! Why?
Blame environmental ideology that puts human needs last. Whether it is the desire to protect fisheries, antipathy toward water-centric agriculture, or the desire to maintain or restore wild areas, California leaders have not met the task of assuring that the state has adequate water supplies to meet its burgeoning and varied needs.
Wait. It gets even stupider! The state has plans to reduce storage:
There are political efforts afoot to tear down existing reservoirs. Hetch Hetchy, which supplies San Francisco’s water, is the prime target, because it was once a valley of great natural beauty akin to Yosemite. But other dams are in the crosshairs, too. Newsom wants to destroy four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to help the salmon. This, at a time when many farms are withering on the vine, and state-imposed rationing policies will ultimately limit individual water usage to 50 gallons a day over the next 10 years.
So, let’s just make things worse! That’s the ticket!
Meanwhile the state wasted tens of billions on the unneeded high-speed “train to nowhere.” This is also the state that took more than 20 years to rebuild a new eastern span of the Bay Bridge because of ideological infighting, when the entire original bridge took less than six. Oh, and by the way, critical cable sections began to rust within a year.
No wonder people are leaving California in droves. It is becoming Venezuela.