Volume 6, Issue 5
As California enters its fourth consecutive year of drought, it is more important than ever that the state take full advantage of every drop of water. But, once again, heavy rains fell in Northern California and, once again, precious water was allowed to flow out to the ocean rather than delivered to the state’s residents, businesses and farms. While some freshwater flows are necessary to maintain water quality and protect fish species, increased flows, such as those from the most recent storm, could be put to better use.
Water pumping limits to protect fish species cost the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project approximately 7,000 acre-feet of water per day during the most recent storm. That’s enough water each day to provide for the annual needs of 56,000 people.
California’s regulators must be given the tools to manage our water system in the most efficient way possible. The current drought continues to highlight the glaring weaknesses in our system. An antiquated water delivery system and a lack of water storage capacity to capture peak flows are at the very heart of that weakness and lead to billions of gallons of water that could be made available for people, the economy and jobs being wasted every year.
Equally important, environmental restrictions, which have provided no demonstrable benefit to the native fish populations they are meant to protect, continue to drive California’s water management policy. Instead, the state needs a more balanced approach to better manage our entire water system for the maximum benefit of the state’s residents, businesses, farms and the environment.
It’s time for policymakers to step up. Until the necessary infrastructure improvements are made and a more balanced approach is taken, we will continue to get the same result – water being wasted.