California Drying Up

Image from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Image from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory


“Right now the state [of California] has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing.” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The above-quoted statement is made by Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine. In an Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, Famiglietti goes on to say, “California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.”

In a column for City Journal, Victor Davis Hanson describes what factors led to California’s current water shortage:

Just as California’s freeways were designed to grow to meet increased traffic, the state’s vast water projects were engineered to expand with the population. Many assumed that the state would finish planned additions to the California State Water Project and its ancillaries. But in the 1960s and early 1970s, no one anticipated that the then-nascent environmental movement would one day go to court to stop most new dam construction, including the 14,000-acre Sites Reservoir on the Sacramento River near Maxwell; the Los Banos Grandes facility, along a section of the California Aqueduct in Merced County; and the Temperance Flat Reservoir, above Millerton Lake north of Fresno. Had the gigantic Klamath River diversion project not likewise been canceled in the 1970s, the resulting Aw Paw reservoir would have been the state’s largest man-made reservoir. At two-thirds the size of Lake Mead, it might have stored 15 million acre-feet of water, enough to supply San Francisco for 30 years. California’s water-storage capacity would be nearly double what it is today had these plans come to fruition. It was just as difficult to imagine that environmentalists would try to divert contracted irrigation and municipal water from already-established reservoirs. Yet they did just that, and subsequently moved to freeze California’s water-storage resources at 1970s capacities.

All the while, the Green activists remained blissfully unconcerned about the vast immigration into California from Latin America and Mexico that would help double the state’s population in just four decades, to 40 million. Had population growth remained static, perhaps California could have lived with partially finished water projects.

For what it’s worth, California isn’t the only state that is facing a water shortage. Still, it will be interesting to see how California voters react if their state dries up.

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  • jim_m

    It’s less of a drought as it is a failure to plan for the expanding population.

    California’s voters will react by claiming that the sky is falling and that global calamity is occurring and that everyone nationwide must suffer for their ignorance.

    In other words, they will continue to behave in the future as they have for the last 40 years.

  • Wild_Willie

    Karma, baby, Karma! ww

  • Hank_M

    Let them eat Delta Smelt.

  • Constitution First

    So let’s import 10,000,000 more illegal aliens.
    Yah, that’ll work out just ducky.

    • jim_m

      The average person weighs 195# and is 57.5% water. That’s 112.125 pounds of water each or 13.4 gallons of water each. With 10 million illegals California is merely importing 134 million gallons of water.

      California water is people!!!!

      • Walter_Cronanty

        Soylent aqua?

        • jim_m

          undocumented water

  • Walter_Cronanty

    I’m sure that this is caused by CAGW, as California has never had such a drought in the history of the universe.

    • jim_m

      CAGW=California Ain’t Got Water.

    • The current drought is not the worst drought in my lifetime, far less the recorded history of the state.

      • Walter_Cronanty

        Yeah, but you’re really, really old.

  • That’s what you get when you blatantly refuse to plan for the future.

    “We have a plan to provide water for the next 50 years! It’ll require regular work, new dams and aqueducts though.”

    “Great! Can we ignore it for forty years, double the population, and still keep using water as we want?”

    “No….”

    “Thanks anyway! Next!”

  • If dams are unacceptable, how about a nuke powered desalinization plant or seventeen?
    last time I looked, we still had an ocean…

    • California already banned all new nuclear power projects decades ago.

      • Well, yes, there is that. However, I propose we take Obama’s example to heart. We bring undocumented nuke plants across the border from Mexico, then once they’re here, why, you can’t expect us to possibly remove them all!

    • WHO’S THE BUSTER

      I am still amazed that no one has yet to develop a viable desalinization plant. It is not a complicated process (simply put, make steam) and could certainly solve water problems that exist everywhere.

      When I was a kid and first read about desalinization or did experiments in science class it sure didn’t appear to be an insurmountable task.

      It now appears that it may be more efficient to develop systems that more closely resemble what was proposed by Aristotle in the 4th century B.C.; a system where water is forced through filters. It still takes a lot of energy and costs about three to four dollars per 1000 gallons.

      • You have obviously never been to Santa Catalina.

      • We are far too busy studying the effects of cow flatulence to ever concern ourselves about anything as mundane as production of potable water.
        Besides, when global warming causes the seas to rise, all of our desalinization plants would have been overcome by the rising tides!

      • It’s not DIFFICULT, as such, but the devil, as they say, is in the details. Things that work on a small scale (such as this little device http://www.maritime.org/doc/fleetsub/still/index.htm ) may not scale up efficiently. Water takes a certain amount of energy to evaporate – and though that temperature is lessened if you try to boil it in a semi-vacuum, you need energy to pull down the vacuum, AND collect the steam coming off the water.

        What I’d like to see is a combination nuclear power/desalination plant. You’ve got to get rid of the waste heat somehow, and using it to boil water would certainly get rid of it. Collect the steam (as a submarine distillation system would) and you’ve got fresh water.

        The engineering would be doable – but politically, that’s another matter. It’d be a hard sell, I think.

        “Water from a nuclear plant! AGGGH! We’re all gonna die!!!11!”

        • Commander_Chico

          Excellent idea!

          • And unlikely for it to ever happen in CA – unless someone takes out the entire state legislature and the environmental lobbyists.

            All too often politicians lock themselves into courses of action that seem reasonable at the time (for certain values of ‘reasonable’, of course – preserving the delta smelt at the cost of nut kicking agriculture in California’s Central Valley is an example…) – and then then expected results/benefits don’t materialize.

            But how can the politician reverse what they’ve pushed through? Don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve EVER seen a politician go “You know, that thing that I pushed so hard for? It was a mistake, and we’ve got to undo it…”

            CA is screwed, I think, unless their politicians put survival of the state above their careers. (Yeah. Very likely.)

          • Commander_Chico

            Waiting for Thorium or fusion, maybe.

            Of course with fusion, all problems are solved.

          • Heh.

            Next up on the Green playlist – “Unlimited power is going to kill the planet! You won’t be worried about efficiency! You’ll be wasting heat! The plant will warm up beyond tolerable limits if there’s enough energy for everyone! Think of the penguins and polar bears before you sign onto fusion power!”

            Besides, fusion – they make bombs from that! Every fusion power plant is a Tsar Bomba just WAITING to go off! Fight the (Fusion) power!

            /sarc

            Yeah, you and I know it’s bullshit – but that hasn’t stopped the useful idiots from being useful yet.

  • jim_m

    if the lefties really believed their bs they would stop drinking. Then after 3 days we wouldn’t have to listen to them anymore.

  • Heard from another expert tonight that disputes the “one yr left” claim. Jeanine Jones with CA water resources board calls BS on the Times article. So, you pays your money you takes your chances!

  • LiberalNightmare

    OK, I we can give it back to Mexico now.

  • Shawn

    Well, California is the tip of the liberal spear, leading the way for our nation, helping to make us all better people through social justice via governmental decree and ‘celebrity’ causes.

    Surely this bastion of liberal nursemaiding can figure out how to provide water for its vast melting-pot of people, who just want to live free and happy any way they want, so long as other for it and we all will realize the righteousness of their actions!

    Perhaps instead of caring about people being allowed to smoke pot (but not cigarettes), allowing illegals to bankrupt the state, and push acceptance of every form of sexual proclivity on the rest of us, these idiots could have rub their baked neurons together, realize they have an entire fucking ocean along their coast, and build a few desalinization plants to solve their man-made water shortage issues.

    Oh, and please just secede.

    • The real problem is that the politicians are conditioned to look for immediate benefits.

      Supporting pot? Gay marriage? ‘Cleaning the environment’ as far as smoking goes? Promising more and more benefits? Those all have immediate, tangible results as far as votes go. They resonate with the voters.

      “I’m going to ensure that in 30 years your children will have enough fresh water!” is all well and good – but THAT isn’t going to help this election cycle. And anything that takes more than one election cycle to get benefits from is going to be a non-starter.