Throw a pebble into a pond and watch the ripples—well, if only we had a pond. The rain that’s fallen on California in the past several days is certainly a welcome change, but it is not enough to reverse the ripple effects of the drought. Average rainfall and reservoir levels are still well below 50 percent of normal up and down the state. The drought has been so severe it may have already caused damage that can’t be undone no matter how much rain we get now.
Typically when you talk about water in California the only thing people agree on is that it’s wet. Other than that, well, it’s a topic full of opportunities for arguments. This year however, there’s something else most Californians agree on about water: We don’t have nearly enough of it.
Coming on the heels of several relatively dry years, the 2013-14 “wet season” is shaping up to be one of the driest on record. Lakes and reservoirs around the state are well below seasonal norms and the Sierra Snow Pack, California’s “savings account” when it comes to water, is holding only about 20 percent of the normal water content. If it continues, and most long term forecasts indicate it will, the lack of water in California could have severe impact in several different ways.
“Water water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” complains the Ancient Mariner as he recounts a harrowing voyage at sea. Here in California, on dry land, we too lament our water situation. Like the Mariner, we sometimes run short of clean fresh water for thirsty cities and agricultural crops. And just as often it seems, we have too much water, in the wrong place, all at once. Dealing with a flood can be just as harrowing as going thirsty.
Instead of merely lamenting on that sad fact, the people at the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District are putting science to work to see if they can reduce storm-water runoff, improve water quality, use less irrigation water and replenish the aquifer at the same time