So here we go again. It’s raining like crazy and the State’s water reservoirs are rapidly filling up. Shasta and Oroville, the largest two, are capturing huge volumes of water because, at least for now, there is room behind the dams. It’s mind boggling really. On Jan. 14, 2023, in a one-day period, enough water flowed into Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville to supply all of Fallbrook and Rainbow customers for nearly six years. (Source: http://cdec.water.ca.gov/reportapp/javareports?name=RES)
Currently reservoir capacity is such that almost every drop of runoff can be saved. There is room behind the dams. A good thing. But, just a few years ago in 2019, we had an above average winter and the reservoirs filled up. When that happens, it’s necessary to release huge volumes of water because, literally, there is no more room behind the dams to store any more water.
There were days in 2019 when water released (water wasted) from behind Shasta Dam alone in one day was enough to supply all Fallbrook and Rainbow customers for one year. In one day. We are likely heading for a similar situation again this year.
The solution of course is to build more storage facilities. Promoting conservation is a good thing too. But conservation has already had profound effects on water use. For example, Rainbow water demands are 50% of what they were just 20 years ago.
So, who wastes the most water? You, because you stayed in the shower an extra couple of minutes? Me, because I have a little bit of real grass lawn for my grandchildren to run barefoot through?
Right now, at the very top of the water waster’s list are the people dragging their feet and not finding funding for and constructing enough storage facilities to capture and save water when it is raining and snow is melting. Not doing so wastes billions of gallons of water that otherwise could be saved for future use.
We are starting to hear some talk from a few of our Sacramento legislators in support of constructing more storage facilities. That’s a good thing. These projects are complicated and expensive. But California’s economy is the fifth largest in the world behind only the United States, China, Japan, and Germany. One would think we ought to be able to secure a reliable water supply and build a few more reservoirs to save water when it falls out of the sky for free.