Friday, December 17, 2010

“Disastrous loss of water”

People by nature are drawn to disasters. Just about every burning car in the U.S. winds up on cable news. Why? Because people will watch. Try to drive by a fender bender without taking a look and chances are you won’t be able to do it.

If you’re into that sort of thing you have a chance this week to see a real live disaster. Head over to the Sacramento River south of the city and look at all of the water flowing by. Starting last Monday and Tuesday the Bureau of Reclamation opened the gates at Folsom and Shasta to reduce reservoir levels at the combined rate of 30,000 cubic feet per second. There are currently 88,000 acre-feet of water per day flowing past the town of Freeport south of Sacramento. Flows of this magnitude are way more than necessary for required environmental flows through the Delta.

Why is this increase in flows a tragedy? Because the water is flowing out to the ocean instead of being diverted to San Luis Reservoir where there currently is space to store additional water for use next year. Pumps that would normally redirect the water flow are operating at less than capacity and further cutbacks are expected any day now because of environmental restrictions.

But for now in order to prevent the alternative disaster of a flood we have to let the water go. So get in your car, take a drive and have a look at all of the water that isn’t doing anything but…but nothing. It’s just going away.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more. There is no doubt that more upstream storage is neccessary.
    There is also little doubt that the co-equal goals of the BDCP would help to alleviate this problem in the future.I suspect that if quantifiable restoration goals were finally established and the associated question of how much water is required to achieve these goals is answered then opposition to a conveyance would be diminished considerably.The inconvenient truth is that these answers have eluded us for decades.
    Perhaps the answers and the resulting impact on diversions is not what some want to hear.