Hydrologic records indicate that this year could be the wettest on record in California. Statewide snowpack measures 160% of average. Precipitation in Palm Springs exceeds the historic norm by more than 50%. Lo, the desert is actually blooming. Most of the major reservoirs in the north are full, and some are releasing hundreds of billions of gallons of water to prevent flooding and make room for the melting snowpack this spring.
While farmers and communities downstream can capture some of the discharges, millions of acre-feet will invariably flow into the ocean due to lack of storage capacity and rules to protect endangered fish species. One problem is that while the state population has increased 70% since 1979, storage hasn’t expanded.
five proposed reservoirs could add four million acre-feet of storage capacity at a cost of $9 billion. Yet environmentalists have opposed every significant surface storage project for three decades. The state is even razing four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River that green groups complain impede fish migration.
Ah, the fish. Regulations intended to protect smelt and salmon have limited pumping at the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. As a result, some seven million acre-feet of water that was once available for Central Valley farmers and Southern California is flushed into San Francisco Bay each year.
Crazy. Here’s an additional element to the craziness: the smelts are eaten by bass that are not native to California. Wasting $1 on this nonsense should be a felony.