CALIFORNIA SPENDS BILLIONS ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS AND GAY/LESBIAN PROGRAMS AND HAS NO MONEY LEFT FOR DESPERATELY NEEDED WATER INFRASTRUCTURE
It was a matter of time until Mother Nature opens its faucets and floods California with water. We expected it to happen. Yet, the massively stupid California government spend all its money on harboring, feeding, educating, feeding, and providing medical care for millions of illegal immigrants. They let down millions of lawful American residents. What if Mother Nature continues the water bath of California? How many more people's life and property will be affected through this reckless incompetence?
What California’s Dam Crisis Says About the Changing Climate
By NOAH S. DIFFENBAUGH
FEB. 14, 2017
Riverbend Park in Oroville, Calif., which has seen extremely heavy rains and is threatened by damage to a dam. Credit Jim Urquhart/Reuters
STANFORD, Calif. — After five years of record-setting drought, much of California is being pummeled by an extremely wet winter. The disaster unfolding at Oroville, where precipitation is more than double the average, is the latest reminder that the United States needs a climate-smart upgrade of our water management systems.
In the West, much of our water infrastructure is old. Oroville Dam, north of Sacramento, was completed in 1968, nearly a half a century ago. Other major components of our water system are generations older, and maintenance has not been a priority. The damage to Oroville Dam, where the primary spillway developed a giant gash and the emergency spillway threatened to erode, illustrates the hazard of relying on aging infrastructure to protect us from extreme weather.
But age and upkeep are not the only problems. Our water system was designed and built in an old climate, one in which extremely warm years were less common and snowpack was more reliable. Here in the West, we use the same dams and reservoirs for both water storage and flood control, so during the wet season, reservoir managers continuously balance the dual pressures of storing as much water as possible for the dry summer and releasing sufficient water to create room for the next storm.
This system relies on the natural reservoir of mountain snowpack, which melts gradually over the spring and summer. While it is well known that much of the West relies on snowpack for water storage, the vital role of snowpack in flood control is considerably less appreciated. When precipitation falls as snow, it stays in the mountains rather than flowing into reservoirs. This leaves more room in reservoirs to prevent flooding downstream during heavy rainfall.
The recent drought has highlighted the pressure that a changing climate puts on a snowpack-dependent water system. With the shift toward more rain rather than snow, and the earlier melting of the snowpack, water managers need to release water more frequently for flood control. This dynamic is playing out in Oroville now, with the state’s water managers racing to empty water from the dam’s reservoir in advance of storms forecast to arrive Wednesday. Because these storms are relatively warm, they are likely to bring rain to the surrounding mountains, speeding the flow of water behind the dam.
The juxtaposition of five years of hot, dry conditions followed by more rain than reservoirs can store may seem incongruous. However, this is exactly what climate scientists have predicted for California since at least the 1980s: protracted periods of warm, dry conditions punctuated by intense wet spells, with more rain and less snow, causing both drought and floods. Recent work from my lab shows that in fact this pattern is already emerging, with the conditions that create extremely warm dry years and extremely wet years both becoming more frequent.
The other bitter reality is that this extremely wet winter will not wash away the drought. Depending where one looks, California lost out on one to three full years of precipitation from 2012 to 2016. That is a lot of water to make up in one year, and as of last week almost half of California was still in a state of drought. The moisture deficits that have accumulated during the drought have not been seen in our lifetimes. They have caused thousands of California residents to go without running water, resulted in groundwater contamination and permanent loss of aquifer storage capacity, and have severely stressed tens of millions of trees. As a result, even after this wet year, rural communities, groundwater aquifers and forest ecosystems will still feel the effects of the drought.
As the last five years illustrate, California’s water system is not equipped for climate change’s “new normal.” That water system must simultaneously provide for the country’s largest population and agricultural sector, and one of its most diverse natural environments. Although California has greatly improved water-use efficiency in the last half-century, climate change is pushing our water system to the limit. Investments in “climate smart” infrastructure can ensure the safety and security of Americans in the face of climate stresses now and in the future. These investments in infrastructure upgrades and expansion would create jobs, protect communities from disasters and help prepare us for changes in the climate. This effort would have several key elements:
First, given the new climate normal in which protracted hot, dry periods are far more common, we need to deploy technologies that can increase water supply. While expensive, energy-intensive desalination options have received considerable attention, wastewater recycling technologies have improved to the point that clean, safe water can now be delivered at reduced energy cost and can even be an energy source by using the organic matter in wastewater to produce energy. Investments in infrastructure to capture, store and clean urban storm water will also create new sources of water supply.
Second, we need to acknowledge that a water system that relies on snowpack for both water storage and flood control is increasingly risky. To make up for loss of snowpack, we need to build infrastructure that enables us to use excess runoff to recharge groundwater aquifers. This will have the dual benefit of replenishing groundwater that is drawn down during hot dry spells and capturing storm water that is lost when water is released for flood control.
Third, we need to prioritize infrastructure that helps us reliably supply safe water to both urban and rural communities while also ensuring that our vibrant agricultural sector and treasured ecosystems have the water that they need. Creating new supply and storage will help, but ensuring equity will require that infrastructure investments simultaneously provide for all of these constituencies.
Fourth, although California has made tremendous progress in improving efficiency, this drought shows that there is still more room to improve. New technologies such as “smart” sensors, coupled with expanded water markets, offer opportunities to further increase water efficiency.
Each of these infrastructure investments would increase the safety and security of Americans right now. That each would also help us to prepare for further climate change shouldn’t be a reason not to make those investments.