OK, I figured it was time for me to get on my high horse again and ride off into the sunset while asking all my innocent questions about our water situation. Forgive me if I’m not politically correct; you must remember that these are just the random musings and observations of a regular angler, who, probably just like you, is trying to figure out what the heck our state is doing to protect our water and fisheries. So here goes …
Question No. 1 – During the drought, was there really any serious contingency plans to capture excess water we might get in a wet year? Since water usually comes in big globs, being ready for that possibility seems like it’d be a rational plan. Looking back, a catchy slogan such as “Catch the Glob!” might have helped prepare us to save any unexpected rainfall rather than having it wash out to sea. It’s happened before, but we learn\ nothing it seems.
Question No. 2 – I feel that the trumpeted programs to try to conserve water were too often focused on splashy headlines and posturing – initiatives such as not serving water at the restaurant or whether to ask for your hotel sheets to be washed. (Wow!) Was I the only one feeling like these kinds of efforts were just political statements intended only to make us feel better? One day we all woke up and suddenly, with the bells and whistles sounding, we now have an official drought. Where the heck were they in the dry years leading up to the declaration? Seems a lot of water could have been saved back then with a serious proactive program, rather than waiting till our lakes hit 7 percent capacity.
Question No. 3 – I have to admit I don’t know all of the factors involved, but I couldn’t figure out why, even amid the worst of the drought, that there were huge new communities being built all around Fresno. Incredible amounts of water had to be made available for those projects. They want us to avoid wasting a glass of water, but at the same time a massive new project goes forward. Maybe I’m just a stupid old fishing guy, but I just can’t reconcile these mutually exclusive messages.
Question No. 4 – Am I the only one worrying about when the next drought will come and what we should be doing in the short as well as the long term? All I’m hearing about is building Temperance Flat Dam at Millerton. That’s great, but if they began work tomorrow, I’ve heard it would be a decade before it’s built. So, do we just dry up and blow away in the meantime, while focusing resources and money on high-speed rail? Are any realistic short-term storage plans in the works?
Question No. 5 – Why haven’t there been any major dam projects since 1979 in California? The population has risen and our water needs have skyrocketed. Good or bad, here’s my take: I believe that it’s been the rise of a powerful, out-of-balance environmental lobby that’s kept us from dramatically increasing storage. Yes, I am a very conservation and environmentally conscious guy, but I think that there has to be more balance. In spite of huge population growth, potentially trillions of gallons of water have been lost that we could have saved. Seems we have quietly shot ourselves in the foot … again. Am I missing something?
We’ve received the wet year we needed and the extra time to adjust we hoped for! But looking at how the state is reacting, I don’t hold out much hope that they are willing to make the necessary changes in approach, including the hard political decisions, that I believe we need.
We have temporarily dodged a bullet, but it appears that delayed intelligence is catching up with us. It’s simple to this old country boy: Water storage is the linchpin to our state’s prosperity and we need to keep focused on it. I suggest that if a big infrastructure project doesn’t help us with our water issue, it waits! Without water, we’re screwed! The bomb is ticking. Never give up!