No sooner had I posted an article about California’s drought woes than news appeared of a “big” storm headed the Underground’s way.
The universe, it seems, is more interested in making a liar out of me than it is in preserving California’s drought.
So be it. I’ve been accused of bringing blanket hatches to a halt just by showing up to fish them, so bringing an end to California’s drought through the simple act of writing about it seems almost logical.
Unfortunately, the storm headed our way will be wet but short (this in consultation with my alpine-guide friends at Mt. Shasta Guides, who enjoy a far more meaningful relationship to weather than fly fishermen ever will).
In other words, this is a first step — but not the drought-busting storm we need. (Actually, we need a series of big, wet, drought-busting storms).
To make matters worse, a high pressure system — the kind of “blocking high” that pushes the Pacific storms around California — looks to be hard on the storm’s heels.
Better enjoy the bad weather while I can.
Right now, the Lower Sacramento River’s flows are in the 3,000 cfs range, which — according to Redding newspaper editor Bruce Ross — are the lowest since 1990. You can basically see the river’s ribs poking out.
It’s bad enough that the California Conference of Catholic Bishops have asked people of all faiths to pray for rain. On a less divine front, California Fish and Wildlife officials are being pressured to close the American River’s steelhead fishery; the very low flows are leaving the steelhead — and the fall-run Chinook Salmon redds — extremely vulnerable to fishermen.
Meanwhile, the Central Valley’s agriculture industry is bracing for another year of low water deliveries. Some will pump groundwater to try and make up the difference, but studies suggest massive overpumping of aquifers is causing parts of the Central Valley to subside as much as a foot per year.
Subsidence doesn’t just permanently damage the aquifers themselves, but it also threatens most of the Central Valley’s gravity-fed water conveyance features (like canals).
Suddenly, the question “How low can you go” acquires new meaning for irrigators.
See you breaking out the Rosary and praying for rain, Tom Chandler.