Friday, October 31, 2014

The Water Bond – But It’s Raining

More Than Half Empty
I have an issue with the California legislature, for almost five decades they have done little to move the number forward on water storage and supply. If anything, it has been the local water districts that have accomplished more with regards to reservoir construction and storage. After all these districts are selling a product and the demand is increasing. But water statewide it is a labyrinth of water districts, federal agencies, environmental concerns, and …. politics.

Here are a few facts:
  • California will grow by more than 30% during the rest of this decade to 50 million citizens (current population 38.3 million)
  • No significant statewide improvements to the distribution system have been built since the California Aqueduct in the late 1960s.
  • At my house in northern California here are the past annual rainfall amounts:

2008-2009       18.0 inches
2009-2010       22.0 inches
2010-2011       28.0 inches
2011-2012       16.5 inches
2012-2013       15.5 inches
2013-2014       13.0 inches

Most non-Californians don’t know that we here in the Golden State only get rain from October to early April, six months. That’s it. It’s like working for six months and having to live off the income for a year. Tough, real tough. And what we have learned is that nothing gets done until there is a crisis – and this one is a dozy.

The water bond on the ballot this year is needed. Not everyone is on board. Farmers and manufacturers have serious concerns, but again they are users. This is about storage and distribution. There is bond money for distribution of recycled (treated effluent) water, this alone can help reduce the demand on potable water for residential irrigation and agriculture. There’s money for reservoirs, groundwater improvements, recreation use, and of course environmental improvements. As with any bond of this kind every palm needs to be greased. Cynicism aside, this is a needed step into the future of the state.

To be honest though, the total funding is pennies. Much more is needed. Massive projects, like the San Francisco Hetch Hetchy system, built more than a hundred years ago, need work. Distribution systems under older urban neighborhoods leak and lose significant amounts of water (not to mention burst and undermine streets). The bond is for $7.545 billion dollars, which comes to $196.80 per person – I think we can do better. And the governor wants to spend more than $70 billion on a high- speed train? More than ten times the water bond – please. Hopefully we can use the train to deliver water to southern California from northern California.

Stay Tuned . . . . . . . . . .

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