Friday, March 13, 2009

Is California's drought man-made?

Columnist Thomas D. Elias says that it is. He writes, in part:

[Judge] Wanger's decision was one reason many California reservoirs neared their lowest levels ever last summer and fall. Yes, 2007 and 2008 were dry years, but this drought did not approach record levels. Wanger's ruling made things far more severe by depriving the state Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) of about one-third of the water their reservoirs would ordinarily have gotten.


Now a series of February and March storms has restored the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, ultimate source for most water in the Delta, to normal or near-normal levels.


But the new Fish and Wildlife regulations will stop the pumps even longer times than did Wanger's order. The idea is to idle them during the entire smelt spawning season, essentially from January to June.


So supplies will be low for farms and cities this spring and summer. Perhaps not as low as indicated by the federal Bureau of Reclamation before the late-winter storms, when it warned many farmers to expect no water at all from the CVP. But still far lower than if the pumps were operating normally.

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