The Western View: Water Projects

Taylor Hillman Features, Water, Western View

Water Projects
Len Wilcox’s Western View: Keep on point to build water projects.

The Western View: Water Projects

California is getting quite a Christmas present this year, with lots of heavy rain around the state, especially in the northern third. The good news is the area around Lake Shasta has received almost twice the normal amount of rainfall so far this year, and the streams and rivers are full, pouring water into Lake Shasta, which is a major water source for the California state water project – drinking water for southern California and irrigation water for the central valley.

But the bad news is, the lake hasn’t been filling up as it should. Yes, water is pouring in, but it is pouring out at a fantastic rate, and not to irrigate land, but to keep the fish healthy.

Even though the water level at Lake Shasta is about 23 feet lower than at this time last year – and it was bad then – and even though the water reserves are dangerously low around the state, the fish still have the priority. The dam has to release water to prevent recently laid salmon eggs from dying.

To me, this serves as a reminder that we can’t get complacent, no matter how much water we will get this year. Right now there is momentum to develop water projects – such as Temperance Flat dam, and more desalination plants on the coast – which will improve our overall water picture. But there is also opposition to those projects. The drought isn’t going to go away, no matter how wet we get this winter. But it will fall off the front page, and when that happens, it will no longer be top of mind with our politicians and bureaucrats. It’s possible they will move on to other things and we won’t get those projects done before the next drought. And this is California, we will have another drought.

So let’s resolve, even if we have to use rowboats to get around this spring, 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.