It is the outcome of the mid 20th century notion that equates progress with giant public works projects and assumes that we can engineer our way out of all sorts of problems, including living on a drought-prone state. This doesn’t work. According to Earthjustice attorney Trent Orr, California’s current water crisis is a man-made phenomenon.
By Roy L Hales, Peter Bettendorff & Robert Lundahl
People tend to think of California’s drought as a local problem, only it happens to provide most of the North America with fruit and vegetables. When you consider that vegetables are mostly composed of water, one has to ask what will happen when it runs out? ECOreport’s Peter Bettendorf recently asked this question at Napa Valley’s Master Gardeners Annual Tomato Sale. There was genuine concern as people tried to cope with the question, What is California’s new normal?
California appears to be poised on the verge of the unthinkable. There is very little snow on the Sierra Nevada, which means very little water next Spring. One of the World’s largest estuaries, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, appears to be on the verge of collapse. Watching this disaster evolve, one has to ask is there Hope For California?
Nine states report record low snowpacks. A report from the US Department of Agriculture states, “the largest snowpack deficits are in record territory for many basins,especially in the Cascades and Sierra Nevada where single – digit percent of normal conditions prevail. Very low snowpacks are reported in most of Washington, all of Oregon, Nevada, California, parts of Arizona, much of Idaho, parts of New Mexico, three basins in Wyoming, one basin in Montana, and most of Utah.” This region is undergoing the warmest winter temperatures since record keeping began in 1895.
A new report, Clean Energy Opportunities in California’s Water Sector, offers what could be a partial solution to California’s water problems. The authors, Juliet Christian-Smith and Laura Wisland from the Union of Concerned scientists, primarily focus on the 20 percent of California’s electricity that is consumed by the water sector. They point out that most water and wastewater utilities own assets (land, reservoirs, ponds etc) that could be used to produce renewable energy.