New California drought plan -- more questions

Posted by Mark Grossi on April 11, 2014 

San Luis Reservoir's dried and cracked bottom during this extreme dry year.


A half dozen representatives of government agencies gathered this week and touted California's newly minted "Drought Operations Plan" to survive the rest of this year on very little water and prepare for 2015.

But it all sounds very familiar.

The state is still in drought survival mode, focused on human health and protection of water quality and the ecosystem. Authorities continue trying to spread the remaining water wisely and fairly.

The plan can't change the weather. There's still zero river water for 3 million acres of farmland. The plan also does not change the potential danger for northern California fisheries or San Joaquin Valley wildlife refuges where millions of migrating birds go.

What's next? More questions.

-- The new plan is based on rain and snow that accumulated through March 1. It has rained and snowed since then. What will this picture look like when those storms are factored in?

-- San Luis Reservoir on the Valley's west side is less than half full. How much more water will be pumped into it? If the reservoir could supply a small number of senior water rights holders 75% of their allotment, some water might be available for 15,000 east Valley growers.

-- What will happen if November and December are dry this year? Authorities must hold river water in reservoirs for release to hold ocean salt out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the massive crossroads where millions of people get their drinking water.

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