September 14, 2008

State Should Build Reservoirs Now

By The Contra Costa Times

As California continues to endure another dry year, complicated by ecological damage to the Delta, the threat of scarce water supplies increases.

Population growth, reduced water pumping from the Delta and the loss if excess Colorado River supplies in Southern California places an ever-increasing stress on a water system that needs substantial updating.

To temporarily help ease the situation, state water officials plan to create the first drought water bank in California sinc ethe dry spell of the early 1990s.

The bank would allow water users, mostly farmers in the Sacramento Valley, to sell water to dry areas of California from the Bay Area to San Diego.

Water levels at major reservoirs are low and getting worse. Some are at half their normal levels for later summer. Even if we have an average rainfall during the winter, the reservoirs are not likely to be refilled.

Making matters worse, restrictions on water pumping could make it difficult to replenish reservoirs even if rainfall is above average during the wet season.

In fact, there is only a 50 percent chance the drought water bank purchases could be delivered through the Delta next year because of pumping limits.

What should be becoming increasingly clear is that California simply does not have an adequate water storage capacity. That should come as no surprise because the state has not built any large reservoirs in decades.

Unfortunately, it is likely to take a severe drought and the ensuing water crisis to create the political will to build the reservoirs that should be under construction now.

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