First response to climate change: More water storage
Shasta Dam in Northern California is the state's fourth largest reservoir and the eighth largest in the U.S. Courtesy Shasta Dam First response to climate change in California: Store more water By LETICIA VASQUEZ-WILSON No matter your thoughts
Shasta Dam in Northern California is the state’s fourth largest reservoir and the eighth largest in the U.S. Courtesy Shasta Dam
First response to climate change in California: Store more water
By LETICIA VASQUEZ-WILSON
No matter your thoughts on climate change, historical records show California is a land where droughts and floods are regular occurrences. The only thing normal about precipitation in California is that it has wild swings between drought and floods.
From the governor on down, California’s leadership regularly claims that climate change is responsible for everything from droughts, floods, and wildfires to hot summer days, and the occasional cold snap.
With all this preparation for a changing climate underway, we need to do something to make sure we’ll have a safe, reliable and ample supply of water, the one thing none of us can live without.
California already fails to meet our existing water needs. We rely on the annual Sierra snowpack for most of the water we use, and we turn to our state’s groundwater for the rest. Both rely on years of heavy precipitation.
California’s snowpack is the state’s largest water reservoir, storing far more water than all of California’s dams and reservoirs combined. When our snowpack melts, it’s delivered throughout California by the State Water Project (SWP). When rain and snow-melt percolate into underground aquifers, it is available to pump as needed.
Those in the climate-change corner predict climate change will make California hotter and drier and will diminish the snowpack in years to come. Yet, when the population of California doubled since the 1960s the SWP wasn’t enlarged or significantly expanded through the addition of new facilities.
Regardless of your opinion on climate change, everyone can agree we should be adding more water storage, improving our water infrastructure and reducing how much we depend on groundwater resources.
Locally we have implemented conservation efforts, expanded water reuse programs, but as a whole, our state hasn’t taken the necessary steps to deal with another drought cycle, such as significantly enlarge our water storage capacity. The more storage we have, the easier it is to transfer water throughout our state’s highly interconnected water system and meet the needs of Californians, food producers, and the environment.
Whether you want more water available to recharge groundwater aquifers to stop groundwater depletion, more recreation areas in which Californians can play, more water to protect fish, waterfowl and wildlife habitats; more surface storage can make that happen. More storage is good. The continued shortage is bad.
Whether conservation, desalination or wringing moisture out of the air, nothing works as well and is as easily obtained as increasing our capacity to store the rain and snows our state receives.
That’s why come Nov. 6, it’s important that we finish the job begun with the Proposition 1 water bond in 2014 and provisions found in Proposition 68 in June’s primary. We’ll be voting again on California’s water future in November. Let’s choose to make our water supply bigger, better and safer. No matter how you feel about climate change, go to the polls and vote if you want a secure water future.
Leticia Vasquez-Wilson is the District IV director for the Central Basin Municipal Water District.