The portents are good; we may well hear lots of rainstorms and have a good El Nino weather pattern this winter. The experts say if we do, we can expect nature to over-compensate for the last few years of drought; weather historians tell us that droughts often end with floods. Plus we have had some unusual weather this summer. with two storms in July that broke the record for rain in the central valley. We’ll hope that’s an omen that a change is coming.
But there is still a chance we will not get the blessing of good rain this winter. With the empty reservoirs around the state and the subsidence in the central valley that’s occurring at an alarming rate, another dry year is frightening to contemplate. If the subsidence continues, the damage to infrastructure alone could be catastrophic. So we need to prepare for both contingencies; severe flooding is possible, even likely; and continued drought with even more wells drying up. Hundreds, possibly more than a thousand, residential wells are dry right now. Next year it could me much worse.
Continued drought is very frightening, but so is the threat of complacency. Right now there is momentum to develop water projects – such as Temperance Flat dam, and fast-tracking more desalination plants on the coast – which will improve our overall water picture. But what if the drought goes away this winter – no that’s not likely, or even possible according to the scientists, as we need too much water to make up the shortfall. But if the drought falls off the front page, is no longer top of mind with our politicians and bureaucrats, we won’t get our projects done for the next drought. And this is California, we will have another drought.
So let’s resolve, even if we have the best water year ever, to keep our politicians on point to build more dams and infrastructure to keep California growing.
I’m Len Wilcox and that’s the Western View from AgNet West.