Water Supply

Bad, but not catastrophic, as this story from the Los Angeles Times reports.

An excerpt.

“Drought is returning to California as a second, consecutive parched winter draws to a close in the usually wet north, leaving the state’s major reservoirs half empty.

“But this latest period of prolonged dryness will probably play out very differently across this vast state.

“In Northern California, areas dependent on local supplies, such as Sonoma County, could be the hardest-hit. Central Valley growers have been told of steep cuts to upcoming water deliveries. Environmentalists too are warning of grave harm to native fish.

“Yet, hundreds of miles to the south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California reports record amounts of reserves — enough to carry the state’s most populous region through this year and even next.

“Memories of unprecedented water-use restrictions in cities and towns, dry country wells and shriveled croplands linger from California’s punishing 2012-16 drought.

“Officials say the lessons of those withering years have left the state in a somewhat better position to deal with its inevitable dry periods, and Gov. Gavin Newsom is not expected to declare a statewide drought emergency this year.

“We don’t see ourselves in that position in terms of supply,” said Department of Water Resources Director Karla Nemeth. “If it’s dry next year, then maybe it’s a different story.”

“Southern California is a case in point.

“Lake Oroville, the big Sacramento Valley reservoir that helps supply the urban Southland, is only 41% full and the Metropolitan Water District can expect a mere 5% of full deliveries from the north this year.

“But the agency has more water than ever stored in regional reservoirs and groundwater banks.

“We’re not contemplating any difficulty in meeting deliveries,” said Brad Coffey, water resources manager for the MWD, which imports supplies from the Colorado River and Northern California.

“Los Angeles, which is partially supplied by the MWD, is similarly confident that it will have no problem meeting local demand. “We’re not in any shortage,” said Delon Kwan, assistant director of water resources for the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

“L.A.’s water use has declined to 1970s levels, despite the fact that California’s biggest city has nearly 1 million more residents than it did then. Restrictions on landscape watering have been in place for a decade, and the city continues to offer conservation rebates for water-efficient appliances and lawn removal.

“Across the state, overall urban water use remains 16% less than it was in 2013.

“We see an enduring conservation and efficiency from the last drought,” said E. Joaquin Esquivel, chairman of the State Water Resources Control Board. “We changed fundamentally our water use on the urban side.”

“System improvements have been made in small rural communities that ran out of water when their wells dried up during the last drought.

“Though agriculture is expected to once again turn to groundwater to make up for sharp cuts in federal irrigation deliveries, officials are hoping to avert a repeat of the last drought, when growers rushed to drill new wells and ramped up pumping so much that parts of the intensely farmed San Joaquin Valley sank several feet.

Retrieved April 2, 2021 from Northern California to suffer more as drought looms – Los Angeles Times (latimes.com)

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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