A drought that’s lasted only two years is creating serious problems in this nation’s most populous state. And other Western states, including Idaho, had better take notice of the simple fact that if we don’t increase water storage, we are putting our food supply and our economy in jeopardy.
If the drought in California continues until spring, water officials there are planning to ration municipal water deliveries and dry up as much as 200,000 acres of farmland. Compounding California’s problem is a recent federal court ruling that limits pumping of water out of the Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta in order to protect an endangered fish, the smelt. Sound familiar?
To sum up California’s problem, the state ranks No. 1 in population with over 37 million people and No. 1 in value of agricultural output at $36.6 billion in 2007. At the present time, there’s not enough water to supply both of those demands. So water managers’ options include first, pray for rain and make plans to dry up farmland, and second, ration water to cities and encourage people to conserve by limiting lawn watering and other activities.
By Paul Eakens
Long Beach Press-Telegram
As drought continues to tax the state’s water supply, water officials from around California gathered this week in Long Beach to contemplate the challenges ahead.
During the Association of California Water Agencies conference, which began Tuesday and ends today at the Long Beach Convention Center, one panel discussion Thursday reflected the polarizing debate over how to address the crisis.
Four panelists from rural water districts made clear the differences between their views on water conservation and those of urban officials.
Long Beach has led Southern California in conserving water use through public outreach and rules for outdoor water use. On Thursday, local water officials announced that the city’s water demand in November set a record 10-year low, falling 12.1 percent below the historical 10-year average and 7.9 percent below November 2007.
State water allocations are expected to be 15percent of what water agencies had hoped for in 2009.
While the four panelists generally agreed that water conservation is needed, they debated how best to implement it and disagreed on creating explicit local or state mandates.
Chris Kapheim of the Alta Irrigation District near Fresno said urban and agricultural water needs differ.
“One size that fits all clearly doesn’t work in California,” Kapheim said.
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