At a news conference on March 19, 2015, California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon warned, “There is no greater crisis facing our state today than our lack of water.”
California’s Big Water Plans; The End of Private Water Rights?
Drought-stricken California, which just had its driest January ever recorded, smashed another dismal record last month: the hottest February. This will be the 5th year in a row of historic drought in California, breaking a 120 year old record.
California is the largest populated state in the country. One out of eight Americans reside in sunny, warming, no rain, CA. Our economy is recognized as the 8th largest in the world with Central Valley farmers producing some 42% of the nations food supplies for decades.
For the second year in a row the Federal Water Agency, which controls CA mountain snowpack runoff, announced that zero water would be allocated to the 3300 state water agencies that it has supplied water to from the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges for the past 54 years. Until recently the states “ice chest” had accounted for 44% of the state’s annual water budget.
Last year, many Central Valley farmers had to fallow their fields when their water allotments were cut to 5% of normal, by Fed and State water agencies. The only exceptions being for those with grandfathered water rights, who can take as much as they like and are making millions and millions selling to those without these exclusive water right privileges.
In a March 2 study last week from Stanford University, reported in the journal of the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences”, scientists are suggesting that we have “entered into a new era where nearly every year we have warming temperatures we will have low precipitation.” The report goes on to say that “essentially all years are likely to be warm – or extremely warm – in California by the middle of the 21st century.”
The ski industry and supporting tourist business around Lake Tahoe is in chaos. Baseline snowpack and skier traffic are down some 75% of normal and the only thing frozen around Tahoe these days are real estate sales.
Californians aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of our collective “new normal” of hotter weather and little precious rain. In Colorado they have been consistently shattering record warm temperatures by some 5-15 degrees. Eastern Colorado had record high temperatures of 82 degrees in early February.
Alaska, again this year, is consistently recording warmer temperatures than Texas, up to some 20 degrees above normal so far this year. It has gotten so bad up in the once Great White North that this week the Iditarod dog sled race had to move 225 miles north. Snowfall in Anchorage was one-quarter of normal for the year.
In the forests of Mendocino County where I live we are seeing trees literally exploding from the inside out. Once majestic beautiful Tan, California and Scrub Oak trees have succumbed to increased pest manifestation and infestation due to lack of water root moisture and are just toppling over everywhere.
Strangely, our government officials are silent as to calling for an all-out effort by all to preserve and conserve what water we have in this major crisis.
Golf courses are still being watered with only voluntary cut backs “requested”. Non-reclaimed water car washes, some facilities using 100 or more gallons of water per car, are still going strong. Energy frackers are still being satisfied with hundreds of thousands of gallons of potable drinking water per well site.
Building permits are still being issued for new wineries in Sonoma and Napa Counties. New housing and other constructions projects the same. North Bay wine sales hit records again this year.
Manicured lawns in the bedroom communities of Marin have never looked better. Restaurants are still pouring water to patrons without request.
Business as usual. Business must grow. Nasdaq just went over the 5,000 mark, an all- time record high. The banksters are very fat, wealthy and happy while Central Valley farmers are readying to fallow more Ag land and try to figure out how they can stay in business again this year.
Yet behind the scenes, in the dark recesses of California State governance, there is much scheming, plotting and long-term planning going on for the protracted, decades and decades long predicted water shortages ahead for us all.
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