California’s Man-made Drought

Climate change is “damn serious,” according to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has repeatedly blamed it for the state’s four-year drought, despite a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report released in December 2014, that found computer models of global warming show increased winter rains. They concluded a La Nina weather pattern was the primary driver of drought.

And while man is responsible for the majority of California’s drought, it’s not in the way Brown claims.

Central and Southern California is a creation of mankind — who engineered the desert to suit his fancy. Since then, environmentalists and their regulation, coupled to poor water management have actually led to “tens of billions of gallons” of water going out to sea over the years.

In recent years more than 4.4 million acre-feet of water — enough to sustain 4.4 million families and irrigate one million acres of farmland — has been diverted to save the endangered Delta smelt. Unfortunately for the fish, a National Geographic report dated April 3, 2015, shows only six were found during the most recent survey.

One acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons, the average annual water usage for a suburban family household.

Meanwhile, Brown is cracking down on water use by fining over users, and trying to reduce overall usage by 25 percent from 2013 usage levels. However, the Associated Press reported that when local water departments were surveyed, water use had fallen by less than four percent in the month of March.

More than half of California’s surface water flows from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the east down to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California. Much of the mountain runoff’s managed by two of the world’s largest water storage and transport systems – the federal Central Valley Project and California’s State Water Project.

Increased surface storage would give regulators more latitude to conserve water during heavy storm-flows and would have allowed the state to stockpile larger reserves during the 15 years that preceded the last drought. Yet no major water infrastructure project’s been completed in California since the 1960s.

Environmentalists have stopped the construction of water storage and delivery systems through legal and political actions. They have also fought to make sure that captured water’s released into streams and the ocean — rather than the water delivery system — in order dilute the salinity of the delta.

The Klamath River diversion project was canceled in the 1970s, putting an end to the Aw Paw reservoir, potentially the state’s largest man-made reservoir with 15 million acre-feet of water — enough to supply San Francisco for 30 years. And recently they put a stop to the construction of dams at the Sites Reservoir; the Los Banos Grandes facility; and the Temperance Flat Reservoir, while moving to freeze California’s water-storage resources at 1970s capacities.

It’s interesting to note that Israel is 60 percent desert and because of this they built giant desalination plants that run on natural gas. California could have improved its situation by increasing not only reservoirs, but by building desalination plants and prioritizing people’s water needs over a fish.

And instead of standing up to the Progressive Environmental Movement, Californians are opting to get their drought-parched lawns painted green.

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About Tom Darby

French-born, American-raised, U.S. citizen, husband, father, friend, veteran, and writer.
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