Monday, May 12, 2008

Water Plan

Any new water plan for California that doesn’t include new water storage—dams—is just whistling in the river and we need to hold the river’s water not whistle as it goes by.

John Garamendi: State’s water needs require bold approach
By John Garamendi - Special to The Bee
Published 12:00 am PDT Monday, May 12, 2008

Like a splash of cold water to the face, the recent startling reports from state water surveyors should be enough to wake up our state.

As The Bee reported May 2, the Sierra snowpack stands at just 67 percent of average levels, and March and April were the driest in recorded history. Local governments have been told to prepare for rationing. But as we proceed rapidly into a world changed by global warming, a spring like 2008's may be the new normal.

Climate change is anticipated to have three major impacts on California's future water supply. First, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, California's primary water reservoir, is anticipated to shrink 30 percent to 90 percent by the end of the century. Second, warmer temperatures will produce warmer winter storms – the classic Pineapple Express – which will lead to more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow, increased threat of flooding, more pressure on our already vulnerable levee systems and serious issues surrounding our ability to store water. And third, rising sea levels will lead to an influx of salt water on our coastline and rivers, affecting water quality, habitat and further reducing our already limited freshwater supply.

Add to this the pressure California's population growth (600,000 people per year) is placing on water resources, not to mention the declining health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and shrinking supplies from the Colorado River. The simple truth is California's water infrastructure cannot withstand the dual stresses of climate change and population growth. We must adapt and manage our water more efficiently.