Sunday, June 15, 2008

Water, Water, Everywhere

Two opinion pieces in the Bee today, one from a farmer who understands the huge amount of water that is sent through to the ocean every year could be used during dry years—like this one is shaping up to be—to water his crops and help feed the world, if we had more storage available.

The other from an environmentalist who feels that since part of the state is desert, the state’s culture and lifestyles should be shaped by that reality.

Human beings have been causing deserts to bloom for millennia and the blooming of the California desert has been possible by dams and canals.

The abundance of water that falls in the north state needs to be captured, stored, and moved around the state when needed, and we have the technolgy to do it.

One obvious solution is the raising of Shasta Dam to its originally engineered height of 200 feet higher than it now is, tripling its water supply, which this 2004 article from the Sacramento Bee describes.

The floods in the Midwest—though they appear to be receding in Iowa anyway, according to this article from the New York Times—have been reported to be 1 in 500 year floods and it gives credence to the public policy long advocated by knowledgeable flood prevention professionals, that any city located near major rivers should have flood protection at the 500 year level.

This is the level many cities in the country have already obtained, though Sacramento still struggles to reach a 100 year level.

New Orleans had a 250 year level when it flooded, and virtually every other major river city in the country has a 500 year level. To see this in a graph go to the Department of Water Resources report: FloodSafe California: Rebuilding the System, Reducing the Risk and look at page 13.