In reality, the current water supply shortage and the mandated use restrictions are a man-made crisis. California has an existing 50-year-old water system originally developed for a population of 17 million persons (half the size of the State's current population). State reservoirs and canals coupled with the federal water system were set up to provide a 5-year water storage supply to serve the entire State during long periods of drought. The reservoirs were at full capacity during 2019.
Despite California voters passing a multibillion dollar bond issue to increase water storage capacity, politicians in Sacramento refuse to spend one dime of the bond issue to increase water storage. If the water system was managed fairly, California would have plenty of water storage to provide years of fresh water for agriculture, businesses and urban water districts. So what's happening to all that water?
During each of the past few years, the California Water Resources Board (WRB) has ordered the State reservoirs be drained through the month of May (the end of California's rainy season) rather than save the fresh water as an offset for future drought conditions and/or percolate water into the many aquifers below ground. Why does the State drain all the large reservoirs each year?
California state water laws and policies adopted by the State WRB have prioritized "drinking water" and "environmental issues" (preservation of the indigenous Delta Smelt in the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta) over agricultural and non-drinking urban usage. (Only drinking water has a higher priority than the Delta Smelt fish.)
Each year California transports, diverts, and pumps billions of gallons of water (approximately 50% of its freshwater collected from rainfall and annual runoff from the Sierra snowpack) into the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta to flush out contaminants and stop salt water intrusion. The vast amount of fresh water that is released into the Delta each year flows into the S.F. Bay and is lost into the ocean. Currently the State is moving forward to authorize the expenditure of billions more dollars to divert even more fresh water from rivers and streams into the Delta.
The diversion of fresh water into the Delta is done to preserve a fish that basically no longer exists. U.C. Davis monitors the number of Delta Smelt in the Delta each year and they have found the indigenous Smelt no longer exists. Despite the program's documented failure, the WRB continues to annually flush half of California's precious fresh water out to the ocean.
The Southern California Metropolitan Water Board's (MWB) position is that restrictions of "one day per week for residential outdoor usage" is necessary as of June 2022 in order to preserve some water be saved as future drinking water. In September 2022 the MWB will re-evaluate the water supply and storage situation. If water supplies and storage don't drastically improve by September, the MWB suggests they will move to prohibit all outdoor urban water usage.
State laws and the WRB's policies are devastating, not only to California's urban residents, but also to the agricultural industry of California. The California agriculture industry (farms and orchards) provides approximately 50% of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables for the entire nation. Annually farmers throughout the Central Valley are receiving 5% or less of the State water contractually promised (and paid for in advance).
California's Farm Bureau projects that to conserve their farms and orchards as best they can, California farmers will leave fallow approximately one-third of their land which will lead to food shortages and dramatic increases of food costs.
Over the past 2 years: 1) energy costs (gas, diesel and heating fuels) have soared to all time highs, 2) the national supply chain has broken down, 3) the national annual inflation rate (higher than 8%) is out of control and 4) California's water shortage has become a real crisis for farmers. Food costs are rising faster than inflation and food shortages (on a national scale) are predicted by the Biden administration.
Add the predicable consequences of California's ongoing water shortage crisis to the national economic scenario and we should expect a very difficult future ahead. Reducing yard watering to one day per week is not going to begin to solve the problem. The next set of urban restrictions, perhaps coming before the end of 2022, include no water for yards and indoor limits of 50 gallons per day per person. Sacramento has already enacted legislation that will further reduce indoor usage to the mid 40 gallon per person per day range.
In order to become water independent, Camarillo should adopt and implement a comprehensive 10-year plan to acquire and develop a 150-acre water storage site to increase its water storage by 2.5 million gallons of water. This would annually support the water needs of approximately 40,000 local households. Currently, water from sources within the Callegaus Creek Watershed area could be collected and stored for outdoor and indoor urban use. Filtration to produce reliable, high-quality, affordable water would cost less than the desalination process. Most of the capital needed to acquire the land and fund the project would come from federal and State grants.
Copyright © 2021 Tim Sprinkles for Camarillo City Council 2022 - All Rights Reserved.