Did water managers act to supply Southern California before the drought became generally known?
By James Batchelder, Santa Rosa
James Batchelder is a retired corporate vice president of environmental affairs.
Re “California Drought sharpens perpetual water conflict”; Commentary, Dan Walters, June 15, 2021
Thank you for the excellent article setting the table for what’s coming politically, legally and in reality.
I think one paragraph deserves more elaboration. You state that “the export limit’s effect on Southern Californian water users would be relatively scant because reservoirs in that region are fairly full.” I have verified this. How interesting that up north, Oroville is currently at 35% and Shasta at 41%, according to the state’s Daily Reservoir Storage Summary.
I watch this report every day and have been appalled at the rate of outflow versus inflow this spring at the two reservoirs, despite water managers’ full knowledge of the poor snowpack and record low rainfall. It leads me to wonder whether state and federal water managers acted to release and fill the Southern California reservoirs before the public, especially in Northern California, awakened to the true shortages.
We are now seeing draconian restrictions being applied to historical water rights holders: municipalities and agriculture. Los Angeles Basin reservoirs essentially are full and Oroville and Shasta are well under 50%. It “is water under the bridge,” yet something does not seem right or transparent about it.
We have relatives in the Los Angeles area who seem oblivious to the dire situation at the source and are not conserving — or being instructed to.
I think this needs some strong media inquiry and explanation from officialdom regarding the export decisions and timing during this extreme drought.