LA Times: Drought offers an opportunity to consider water policy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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Los Angeles Times

Drought offers an opportunity to consider water policy

California must prepare to capture and store water to be used during future, inevitable shortages.

George Skelton
Capitol Journal
6:01 PM PST, January 19, 2014

SACRAMENTO — So it’s official: We are in a serious drought. That means this: Next comes serious flooding.

But we’ll still be in a declared drought.

That’s just the nature of California weather patterns — and water politics.
A drought proclamation, as issued by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, changes the political climate. It focuses public attention on the need for costly new waterworks.

Therefore governors and water officials are always reluctant to declare a drought over, even when rivers again leap their banks, fill reservoirs and send torrents of muddy snowmelt, uprooted trees and drowned livestock cascading into the Pacific.

That’s when we’ll curse ourselves for lack of foresight, for not having built the facilities to capture and store the floodwaters needed to get us through the next inevitable drought.

You can look it up: After virtually every severe drought there’s devastating flooding.

That doesn’t justify constructing just any waterworks. Brown’s hugely expensive ($25 billion), monstrous twin-tunnel project planned for California’s main water hole, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, should be thoroughly reassessed.

The proposed 40-foot wide, 35-mile long tunnels would siphon off great volumes of Sacramento River water before it flows through the delta, robbing local farmers and fish and disfiguring one of California’s most bucolic areas. There hasn’t been enough serious thought to modernizing or relocating existing flawed facilities at the other end of the delta.

You also don’t hear much discussion of whether certain crops in California — wine and weed, for example — are justified in such quantities, given the great amounts of precious water they soak up.

Don’t we already have enough vineyards? And don’t tell me I can’t water my lawn when shady people in the hills are depleting the aquifers and poisoning the streams by growing pot. Then there’s fracking.

To read the full article, click here:,0,5682054,full.column#axzz2qxnsfSJH

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