California’s Water Dilemma

Bradley J. FikesBradley J. Fikes Leave a Comment

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(Cross-posted from my North County Times blog)

I wrote earlier this week about the increasing threat to the water supply in the Southwest United States, especially to California. Here’s a post to continue the conversation. And if you want to look over the comments left on my story, go here.

One of the things I pointed out in the story is that our problems remain even if there’s no man-caused climate change. Scientists have found that natural climate change in the Southwest, specifically precipitation, is greater than was thought when our water systems were built in the early to mid-20th century. Much more extreme droughts have taken place in the last 1,200 years. That seems like a long time, but it’s a geological eyeblink. And we have no way of knowing when the next extreme drought will hit, or if perhaps we’re in the middle of one right now.

The man-caused global warming/climate change issue is so polarizing that many skeptics immediately tune out anything connected to it. That response may be a natural reaction to the years of media-driven hype on the subject. But in this particular case, it’s the wrong reaction. Add to natural climate change the effects of increasing population and man-imposed constraints on the use of water such as environmental laws, and we’re in a nice pickle.

(NOTE for SD Rostra readers: This New York Times article on the studies is an example of the global warming hype, illogically saying in its lead that natural climate change is an example of what to expect from man-caused global warming. And you would never know from reading the article that the overall putative global warming trend in the Southwest is toward more precipitation, not less.)

Central Valley farmers are already suffering as their water is cut to benefit the fish in the Sacramento Delta/San Francisco Bay estuary. Southern California cities and water agencies have called for more stringent conservation to safeguard the water they have in storage.

Modifying these environmental laws would be one way to give farmers and urban dwellers more water. However, that doesn’t appear feasible in the foreseeable future, considering the results of last month’s elections in California. The state has firmly endorsed the environmentalist agenda. And some of the laws and court cases are at the federal level.

So, given these constraints, what do we do? As food for thought, I offer this editorial in the North County Times, which has some interesting ideas.

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