[env-trinity] Tom Stienstra's Take on Drought

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Mon Oct 27 12:21:45 PDT 2008

Drought, or water heist?

San Francisco Chronicle - 10/26/08

By Tom Stienstra


(10-25) 15:19 PDT -- Gov. Schwarzenegger is calling the year's lack of rain
and snowfall a drought of epic proportions and points to the low lake levels
to prove it. The answer, he says, is passing a $9.3 billion water bond next
year to build a peripheral canal and several new reservoirs in a program
designed to send more water to points south.


The facts are that the past two years are only the ninth driest two-year
period in the past 88 years, and that California routinely experiences such
periods once every 10 years, according to the Department of Water Resources.


What happened last year is that water managers were betting on a wet spring.
When it didn't happen, many lakes were drained down to nothing in order to
send water to L.A. and farmers.


Shastina, tucked on the north slopes of Mount Shasta, is a testament to this
bad bet. In the past two summers, water was drained from the lake to
irrigate hay fields in the Shasta Valley as if there was no end in sight to
the water available. The lake hit bottom last month. So when you drive up to
the boat ramp, all you can see is exposed lakebed. This isn't a drought.
This is a created shortage.


True droughts are measured by soil moisture, and in some cases, water levels
at wilderness lakes. In a true drought, soil moisture is so low that plants
go into artificial hibernation to protect themselves, as in 1992, and that
has not happened. Up in the high country, most wilderness lakes - outside
the reach of water-grabbers - are full.

Even more telling is that along Interstate 5 near L.A., Pyramid Lake, which
gets water from Northern California, is 97 percent full right now.


Yet while all this is going on, ocean conditions are setting up right now
for decent chance of a very wet fall.



Byron Leydecker, JCT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810

415 519 4810 cell

bwl3 at comcast.net

bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org (secondary)


 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net>  



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