By David L. Horne, PhD | Oped contributor
Rain, Rain, Go away. Come back and bother me another day!
The rhymes of childhood are well remembered these days, as Los Angeles, and California itself, are experiencing a very watery early springtime. Calling them “atmospheric rivers,” the various weather forecasters seem to be singing from the same hymnbook lately. And yet, it rains still.
Surely, then, in a few weeks, we won’t have to worry about the incessant California drought, right? We can all water our lawns to our hearts’ content?
Unfortunately, that’ll still be a yes-no.
According to the latest announcements, in spite of this sixth atmospheric river in two weeks dumping rain on many parts of the state, California water regulators have stated publicly that the large water reservoirs this city and the state depend on are very unlikely to even come close to refilling any time soon.
California has 154 reservoirs statewide, and the latest predictions are that at best only some of them — less than half — will even reach 81% of capacity, according to the Department of Water Resources. When we include Lake Mead and Lake Powell, two critical components of the Colorado River system, the news is even worse. More rain, more rain, but in the wrong places.
One of the largest reservoirs in California, Northern California’s Lake Oroville, has gained enough water to increase its inflow by more than 85 feet since Dec. 1, it’s been reported. But that still leaves it only at about 46% of its regular 3.5 million capacity, and although more rain is surely coming within the next two to three weeks, it is not expected to raise Oroville’s water back to normal. Apparently, the long summers of drought in the previous years have just been too long.
By comparison, though, the San Luis Reservoir, south of San Francisco, has risen about 33 feet and added 287,000 acre-feet of water since Dec. 1, it remains at only 39% of capacity. The Shasta reservoir, operated by the federal government for California’s benefit, is currently only 41% full in spite of all the rain we’ve had lately.
And even though at least three more storms are expected in the next nine days, according to most of the climate scientists, there is little likelihood of the reservoirs getting back even close to full capacity this year.
Why? My question is didn’t the Romans and others show us how to build and sustain aqueducts thousands of years ago? They worked, didn’t they? Why can’t modern man move the water we need from one landed space to where it’s most needed? With all our modern technology…..we move oil and oil sands thousands of miles over sacred Indian lands, don’t we? Why then can’t we move, say, East Coast water — where they seem to have too much of it — to California and the West, where it is sorely needed? Sure we have a huge snow melt that will help this year, but shouldn’t we be looking for a more sustainable solution?
After all, we’re sending robots with A.I. to Mars and the moon. Why can’t we solve our California water crisis that we revisit every year?
Is this a scientific question or another political competency teaser? I say, let’s pay more attention to developing an efficient plan to sustain California’s water systems rather than wasting more time on developing more oil drilling platforms in Alaska’s snow fields.
A little more common sense, please.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
DISCLAIMER: The beliefs and viewpoints expressed in opinion pieces, letters to the editor, by columnists and/or contributing writers are not necessarily those of OurWeekly.