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California lawmakers waste water


Last updated 9/16/2021 at 6:32pm

Here we go again. We are being told California water supplies are at risk and we need to start using less water under threat of more mandatory water use restrictions. In 2019, we had one of the wettest years on record. At the end of the 2019 water year, major water storage reservoirs in California were at 125% of average capacity. That was just two years ago.

In 2019, California had enough rainfall and snow pack to satisfy several years of water supply demands if we had dams and reservoirs of sufficient capacity to capture this life-giving resource. Instead, hundreds of billions of gallons of water were released from dams and reservoirs because of insufficient capacity to capture and store water. Water that was wasted.

Here is just one example of how absurd things have become. In 2019, during a six-day period from April 13-18 at Lake Shasta, the state’s largest water storage reservoir, 93,000 acre-feet of water was not saved, released from behind the dam and wasted to the ocean because Lake Shasta was full. That’s 30 trillion gallons. Enough water to supply all the water demands of Fallbrook and Rainbow customers for three years. Why were there no facilities downstream from Lake Shasta to capture and save this water?

We have resorted to a myriad of water use efficiency programs, have increased water rates to penal levels to force conservation, have constructed expensive and energy intensive sea water desalination projects, and have resorted to treating sewage water for return to underground drinking water aquifers. Yet water supplies remain at risk because we fail to capture and save water that falls out of the sky for free. And don’t forget dams and storage reservoirs create opportunities for clean hydro power generation.

In Southern California we are heavily dependent on water supplies from the Colorado River. Lake Mead is at historically low levels. Colorado River water supplies are not reliable long term. California needs to look within and develop water supplies that are available to us here in our own state.

It is not ok for us as consumers to waste water. Nobody should waste water. Nobody. Including the State of California. Politicians that resist building more storage reservoirs waste water. Turning a blind eye to projects that can save water that is abundantly available in California during wet years is just preposterous. Government’s responsibility is for the health, safety, and welfare of people. Conservation, reclamation, and recycling make sense. Wasting water that falls out of the sky for free does not.

Thankfully our local state representatives seem to have this issue on their radar. But they can’t do it without support from the Governor. The only way this gets better is for us to have leadership in Sacramento that cares about things that really matter. A reliable water supply matters. There is a recall election just around the corner. It’s your choice. Or, as the beer commercial says, we can just “Stay thirsty my friend.”

Steven Smith



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