With El Niño we were told California’s drought would be washed away. That didn’t happen.
As El Niño’s little sister, La Niña, comes to visit, we're now being told that our drought, which really didn’t go away, could get worse.
These long-range weather predictions are almost as accurate as earthquake predictions, except we know that earthquakes WILL happen out here. Picking the date for the next big one or THE big one isn’t much different from climate claims.
Knowing when the next epic winter will coat the Sierra with 50 feet of snow and fill all of our reservoirs before the snow melt isn’t much different.
Here we are in the 21st Century with our technology and abilities and still we can’t say for certain how much rain and snow will fall next winter. Worse yet: we can’t seem to let history and experiences teach us that maybe it’s time to upgrade our water infrastructure and build a few more reservoirs.
Really nothing if you pay attention to politics and policies in America’s largest agriculture state, which contrary to the opinion of some, is not located in the Midwest. At the rate things are going that might change in a few years.
Water and environmental policy in California are squeezing dry those who grow our fruits, vegetables, and nuts while antiquated policies tell dairy farmers what the milk their cows produce is worth. The result is the liquidation of dairy herds and a decline in milk production in the state that produces one-fifth of the nation’s milk and continues to lead the nation in total milk production.
It still baffles me at all those who fail to see the connection between agriculture and water – a connection braided by our economy, national security and civil peace.
In late June California’s Gov. Brown signed a $167 budget that includes 80 percent of the Proposition 1 – California Water Bond – funding approved by voters in a previous election. None of the money approved in the new budget goes towards the storage chapter in the bond because that money was divorced from the budget process for good reason.
Yet as we sit here today, the $2.7 billion in the bond that is “continuously appropriated” for water storage projects, meaning it is not subject to the later whims of legislators or the governor, remains unappropriated for necessary water storage because within the law is language that could perhaps keep that money from ever being spent on its stated purpose.
For instance, the law gave the California Water Commission until the end of 2016 to craft regulations and priorities for the “public benefits” portion of that money – in essence, half of the $2.7 billion. The rest must be matched by local agencies.
When did water for human beings cease to become a “public benefit?”
Apparently it has, and therefore its best and highest use is defined otherwise in court records signed by judges who remain unaccountable to the voters.
Regardless of which climate condition with its Spanish name sets itself up in the Pacific Ocean later this year, California will remain unprepared for drought and flood until voters determine themselves to clean house on the elected bodies and their appointed regulatory servants that are perpetuating the policies that are dooming a once-vibrant state to failure.
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