“Nothing brings more fear to the hearts of water planners in the American West than drought. Droughts lack the visual images of other natural disasters, instead they creep up on the landscape with no clear beginning or end.” The West Without Water, B. Lynn Ingram, Frances Malamud-Roan.
While the debate rages on regarding this winter and if it was truly an end to the drought, the Sacramento Valley is still recovering from a record rainfall. Many fields remain underwater. The Sites Project Authority office is still under repair from the three feet of water that swirled through in the flood that closed Interstate 5 for almost a day and flooded half of Maxwell and Williams. Many of the bypasses still look like an endless sea instead of a river. Kim’s Cafe in Maxwell, thanks to the kind hearted donations from people, is back up and running, but for many the winter still rages on. The debates over what happened in Oroville and the solutions will occupy many of the town hall meetings for years to come. Fields that are usually planted by now are just being plowed as they dry out from the never ending rain. The drought has been declared officially over, but as we recover from the wet spring the process moves on to understand and regulate groundwater. The California Water Commission in addition to accepting proposals for water storage improvement programs will have presented the final draft of the new Groundwater Sustainability Plan at the April meeting. Another issue for farmers in the Sacramento Valley are the flow requirements for the Delta. Since the report on the Flow Criteria for the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Estuary Program was finished in 2010 the debate on how to implement the findings have been moving toward a decision. The drought may be over but the need to stay involved and plan for the next drought is not.