Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Water wars, water issues in California

The Sentinel (Auburn, California): While many parts of the state feel the impact of two straight years of below-average rainfall, very low snowmelt and the largest court-ordered water transfer restrictions in state history, Placer County remains drought free – at least for 2008. But Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s June 4 drought proclamation and executive order takes immediate action to address “a dire situation” where numerous California communities are being forced to mandate water conservation or rationing programs.

Statewide, the lack of water has created other problems, said the governor, including extreme fire danger due to dry conditions, economic harm to urban and rural communities, crop losses and the potential for degrading water quality in some areas. But not in Placer County, reports David Breninger, general manager for the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA).

“This year is not a lot different than last year for those of us here in the Sierra foothills,” he said. “We got through last year just fine and we plan to get through this year just fine.”

…Regardless, state and regional water officials continue to urge communities to conserve water whenever possible, especially now when landscapes and lawns soak up 50 percent of water used during the summer months. “All of us should be looking to apply water-use efficiencies and best-management practices – kind of a conservation ethic, if you will,” said Breninger. Water officials applaud Schwarzenegger’s proclamation for making a splash with water consumers by raising awareness that voluntary conservation statewide is important.

…One of the state’s most polarizing ballot initiatives pitted North against South in 1982 with a proposal to develop the so-called Peripheral Canal, designed to divert water around the Delta to southern locations. While the measure received overwhelming support in the South with 70 percent of voters there, Northern Californians shot the measure down with 90 percent of its voters proclaiming “no way.” “That battle never goes away, especially here in the north, anytime (a statewide) drought is mentioned,” said Lisa Amaral, water conservation administrator for the City of Roseville

Map of California highlighting Placer County, David Benbennick, Wikimedia Commons

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