Jan 19 2014
The Rainmaker became an American 1956 film directed by Joseph Anthony and adapted by N. Richard Nash from his play The Rainmaker. The film tells the story of a middle-aged woman, suffering from unrequited love for the local town sheriff; however, she falls for a con man who comes to town with the promise that he can make it rain. It stars Burt Lancaster, Katharine Hepburn, Wendell Corey, Lloyd Bridges and Earl Holliman.
The best remembered facts about Charles Hatfield the real Rainmaker are that when he ministered to the sky it rained torrents and when he tried to collect $10,000 from the City of San Diego the mayor and council welshed.
Whether Hatfield really caused it to rain in San Diego County in 1907 is still being debated. However, the SDCWA tells us there is no immediate problem, so water rationing is not yet required, although Governor Brown has issued a drought emergency for the State of California. Currently the State’s reservoirs are 59% full, but the snow pack in the Sierras is only 20% of the historical average, and winter is nearly over.
It would appear the SDCWA is counting on a rainmaker since, if every drop was used from local reservoirs, we would have about three years supply of water. Now we know not every drop can be used, so since the Water Authority says we’re good for 2014, they expect 2015 to either be a wet year or they can call on Hatfield’s ghost to produce rain.
This is like a couple approaching retirement.
Dorothy: “John, you haven’t worked for three years now. We can’t go on living on our nest egg we saved for retirement.”
John: “It’s okay, next year I’ll have a job, and replace the money.”
Dorothy: “How do you know that?”
John: “What’s for dinner?”
Dorothy: “Don’t change the subject!”
And the conversation deteriorated from there.
An Analogy can have limitations, and this one does. John and Dorothy are just two people, not the nearly 25 million people in Southern California who depend on the diminishing Colorado River and the seismically unstable State Water Project, in a three year drought to boot.
The answer should be to raise the price of water delivered to agri-business and residential users to fund the infrastructure for recycling the precious water we do have. But do we hear anything from SDCWA about that? The answer is no, and the reasons are obvious. They want to keep their jobs.
Next year when we are still enjoying summer weather in the middle of January, will they still be assuring us all is well, or can we expect action? I doubt it. Like John, “next year I’ll have a job and replace the money” [next year the rainmaker is coming, and the reservoirs will fill]
And the story continues…….
Milton N. Burgess, P. E., FASPE
Author of “Water Shock, The Day Southern California Went Dry”