Feinstein Says More Water Storage Needed

And she is exactly right, reported in this article in the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

“Flying over California recently on my way back to Washington, I was dismayed to see how bone-dry the state is so early in the summer season.

“There was virtually no snowpack. Lakes and reservoirs are circled with rings of barren, dry soil. And plumes of smoke from forest fires dot the skies, something that will worsen as the fire season progresses.

“The message is clear: We must do more to prepare for increasingly harmful dry years by capturing more water in wet years. In short, California needs a lot more water storage – and we need it now.

“The dire state of affairs was confirmed by David Hayes, outgoing deputy secretary for the Department of the Interior, at a recent budget hearing. Despite a promising start to the water year, Hayes testified, “This is the driest January-through-April period in California’s history in the last 100 years.”

“Farmers, of course, are acutely aware of the situation. Water allocations for some of the largest South-of-Delta Central Valley Project irrigation districts stand at just 20 percent of their contract amount. Declining reservoir levels suggest that next year will be even worse.

“Complicating matters are pumping restrictions mandated by the Endangered Species Act. Despite being found scientifically deficient by a federal court and the National Academy of Sciences, these restrictions continue to have a negative effect on water supplies throughout the state.

“The Bureau of Reclamation is putting together a plan to address this year’s water shortages based on water transfers that could increase the water supply for South-of-Delta contractors to the equivalent of a 40 percent allocation.

“These one-time patches, however, are not an adequate solution. Absent state action, it is my view that we may be faced with the possibility of more far-reaching changes, such as modifications to the Endangered Species Act.

“Expanding and improving California’s water storage capacity is long overdue. The last time we saw significant state and federal investments in our water storage and delivery system was in the 1960s, when the state’s population stood at 16 million. Today, that same system supports 38 million individuals and will need to support 50 million by 2050.

“If we don’t take significant and rapid action, I fear California is at risk of becoming a desert state.

“The need for additional storage is hardly a revelation. More than a decade ago, legislation passed that authorized the Bureau of Reclamation to do feasibility studies on expanding or building four reservoirs: Shasta, Sites, Los Vaqueros and Temperance Flat.”

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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