Houseboat in dry dock on a California reservoir

Instead of bobbing peacefully on a full lake, houseboats sit in dry dock at a popular California reservoir as drought continues to claim lakes and streams.

Part One: If words were water we would be wet

I’m really trying – I’d like to write about a larger variety of things in this space than the California drought: I really would.

I’ll take full responsibility since these topics are typically of my own doing. Still, they primarily relate to current events, which we all know lately has been centered on the drought. If only we had as much water as there have been words spent on the issue.

Two issues that really burn me over the drought have to do with what’s happening more locally to where I live. The other is the political battles that pop circuits in my brain.

For over a year now residents of the East Porterville area of Tulare County, Calif. have suffered through third-world conditions because their wells went dry. Since then these folks of extremely limited means have had to haul water into their homes in buckets and plastic trash cans to meet their needs.

Don’t we send missionaries to third-world countries to address issues like this? Maybe they could send them back because we could use their expertise right now.

Recently the Fresno Bee reported that the only thing budding in drought-parched East Porterville is a health crisis.

Wells in Tulare County and in other parts of the state are dry due in large part to how California partitions water, which brings us around to politics. Sadly it typically does.

I’ve asked the politicians I’ve interviewed in the past couple years, who among them is truly embarrassed by the fact they preside over third-world conditions in 21st Century California. I’m still looking for one to admit they are. One would think that in a polite society resignation out of an incredible sense of utter shame and embarrassment would be common.

The other issue has to do with the recent legal challenge senior water rights holders filed over California’s curtailment of their water rights.

In court – I cannot make this stuff up; I am not that talented a writer of fiction – lawyers for the state apparently told the court that the curtailment notices that recently went out were merely “advisory courtesy” notices and had no force of law (teeth) attached.

That seems to be a common defense of government attorneys to things like curtailment notices and cease and desist orders. When challenged on their constitutionality attorneys backpedal into phrases short of “just kidding!”

Really? When a regulatory agency tells you on official letterhead to stop doing something you have a choice? So government orders to stop diversions are now only “advisory” and “courtesy?” Does that mean they’re also “optional?”

These games being played by state and federal regulators are not funny. They’re destroying businesses and livelihoods that have been built over generations. These decisions are simply dangerous.

I’ll continue my thoughts in my next blog.

See what happens to writers who try not to focus on the drought?


Follow me on Twitter @ToddFitchette

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