Last year this time there was no mistaking the reality of California’s drought.
There was no snow on the ground in the high country and lakes that should have been full, or close to it were below typical late-summer levels.
Not so for this year.
While we’re repeatedly told the drought is not over, others are moving forward as if it is.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a homeowners association in the Bay Area has determined the drought is over – and for them it largely is – and is now ordering homeowners to begin greening up their lawns or face fines.
This follows news from the Sacramento region that a water district in the upscale community of Granite Bay will no longer follow state conservation mandates ordering customers to conserve water.
Further west, the large East Bay Municipal Utility District indicated it would cease fines and “drought shaming” efforts that publicly named those deemed to be over-using water because officials there believe they have enough water.
California’s water woes are really a tale of two states.
In the north where the water originates supplies are plentiful. Shasta Lake is within a few feet of capacity, as is Lake Oroville. For federal water contractors in the north, this is why they will receive a full allotment of water while water users south of the Delta will receive a fraction of their requested amounts.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is reported to be pushing stiffer fines – upwards of $40,000 per month – for what officials deem “unreasonable use,” according to KTLA 5 news.
Further north, the City of Fresno is reported to be looking at using recycled water to irrigate its landscapes because it too is the victim of location and federal water misers who control deliveries to the city of over 520,000.
I’m not criticizing conservation efforts or trying to pit northern California water users against those in the south. This is an issue of one state that is politically and culturally fractured and is the victim of its own size.
I’m merely pointing out examples of the state’s water divide that cannot be solved as long as there is no solution to moving water south of the Delta so residents there have equal access to water.