California water expert Bill Patzert (a climatologist with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory) lays out California’s water situation in two very sobering paragraphs:
Our water supply depends on the snowpack in the northern Sierra and the eastern Rockies. It also depends on the population growth in the Southwest. We share the Colorado with seven states and six Indian nations. Everybody gets an allocation and we leave a couple of drops down at the bottom for Mexico. That’s the background info on water in the West. We capture it, we ship it.
Let’s look back over the last 20 centuries: We’ve seen tremendous droughts in the American West. In the 11th century there was an 80-year drought along the Colorado. This is before global warming by anthropogenic — or man-made — sources. The 20th century, which is when we built our civilization in California, was one of the wettest in 2,000 years. It was an anomaly. We know this from tree ring records. We have built a civilization, which is the sixth- or seventh-largest economy in the world, based on imported water in a wet century. How do you like that?
You can read a lengthy interview with him on L.A. Magazine, but it’s relatively easy to sum it up for those of us in California.
No wonder the state’s politicians and water agencies are pushing so hard to build “the twin tunnels” from Northern California to the south.
See you on the (dried up) river, Tom Chandler.