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National focus on California drought has its benefits

California’s drought is getting a lot of attention much like a train wreck gone viral on the social media app “Vine.”

Perhaps a reality television show could be made of the disaster and the proceeds used to address the water infrastructure needs we have failed to fund since the Kennedy administration.

The New York Times is said to be devoting a story a day to the crisis. As necessary and useful as this exercise is and as needed as a healthy discussion on California’s water woes has become, more talk is not going to get the job done.

We know what must be done. It’s time to do it.

As the California Water Commission holds listening sessions around the state to gage stakeholder input on various necessary water storage projects, let’s face it folks. Each of us is a stakeholder in this water debate because we need it to sustain human life. The skeptical among us (my hand is high in the air) wonder how much this exercise will mean once it starts raining again.

A telephone conversation I had the other day with meteorologist Joe D’Aleo, a long-range forecaster with the private weather forecasting organization Weatherbell Analytics, suggests that could be as soon as this fall.

Heavy emphasis on the word “could.”

We saw the prognosticators last year jump up and down and say a massive El Nino was forming with the premise the drought would end.

El Nino formed, but lbut we saw very little rain and virtually no snow in California.

The phenomenon is back at it, this time a bit stronger, according to the reports. Already D’Aleo is saying El Nino could peak in the fall, leading to the possibility of an enhanced storm track next season in California.

Even if it rains next season, California is in serious trouble. We cannot sustain our growth and use of water, certainly not at the rate we’re allocating more of it each day to fish and wildlife.

Back to the New York Times and others who are devoting column inches and server space to the issue more likely due to our voyeuristic tendencies than it is the old journalistic idea of sparking debate, answering questions and encouraging people to do the right thing.

Like the little bit of rain and snow we saw in California April 24-25. We’ll take it, but it’s still not enough.

California and America is in serious need of some common-sense, get-your-hands-dirty kind of leadership that carries with it the willingness to expend serious amounts of political and financial capital to create more water storage in California.

Until we can achieve sustainable supplies of water for people, all the noble and lofty projects that we’re currently spending money on must cease and, if necessary, have funding for those projects shifted to correcting decades of inaction regarding California’s broken and over-burdened water resources. 

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