We all have them, the jeans in the back of our closet, the ones that we know will fit us when we lose a few pounds. We may take them out and try them on occasionally, and dream about wearing them again, but most of us never do. California’s water system is like that pair of jeans, it no longer fits. Changes in weather patterns and increases in population make changes to our water system a necessity. The idea that we can conserve our way out of every drought, and maintain levee security with a growing population and changing weather patterns endangers the economic health of our state, and the safety of our citizens.
This year’s historic drought has been the topic of conversation since the rain stopped falling this spring. The news media can’t show enough pictures of un-watered lawns and fields, but while we talk about drought, it is also imperative to remember one of the most important pieces of the drought puzzle is the water system that servesas a flood deterrant for the state of California. It is a water system whose purpose that was designed to protect the Sacramento Valley from flood. California is now in the process of updating regional flood management plans. Care should be taken to include solutions that provide for capture of high rain events.
California’s official position is that global climate change is occurring and that the state must make changes in the way we do business to offset the damage that global climate change will bring. If global climate change is ocurring, then California needs to update the current water system that serves this state. The current system is based on cold winter snow pack and spring rains to fill reservoirs. This spring, thousands of acre feet of water ran down the mountains of California’s watersheds into the ocean. That water could have saved hundreds of acres of crops, had it been captured and held, even for a few weeks. Without a way to divert and capture that water, California’s water system will not be able to meet the needs of California water users now or in the future. Off stream storage is one of the solutions to providing both flood protection and water for the people of California. It can be a way to capture water from warmer storms systems that have become the norm in the last few years.
If the claims of scientific experts are true, then it would only seem logical that those same experts should be demanding that more storage be built and more water be diverted. Those experts should be demanding that our water system be enlarged to meet climate changes if they insist that global warming is occuring. California needs to stop trying to get into their skinny jeans and face the fact that our water system is outdated and needs improvement. We can Save California, but only if we, Build Storage. n