Jul 18 2014
Water-The Third Rail Part XVI
Let’s face it, the SDCWA made a $416 million bet four years ago with our
money and lost. No matter how the San Vicente dam raising is spun, the
article admits there is no more water behind the dam now than there was
before it was raised, “and it will take several years” to accomplish the
goal of providing emergency storage for 300,000 homes for six months.
Meanwhile, the drought deepens.
And that’s not all (like the late night TV pitches for gimmicks), over the
last 16 years they have spent $1.5 billion (with a B) on storage projects.
Not one dollar of this money has gone to provide new water sources like
potable recycling. SDCWA maintains the Imperial Irrigation District water
transfer is “new water” It’s not, it from the same over-drafted Colorado
River where sixty percent of our water comes from. The Carlsbad desal
plant? At less than ten percent of SD’s water needs, it may help keep up
with population growth.
Currently the State Water Project is reported to be delivering zero water to
San Diego County and Lake Mead where our water is stored is at historic
lows. The editorial in the same issue of the UT has it right, despite the
storage additions, “It’s not enough”.
Today (7-18-2014) nearly an entire page in the Local section of the UT is
devoted to a discussion of water. Any mention of potable recycling? Nope.
Thomas V. Wornham, SDCWA board chairman says “County Residents, Businesses
Must Conserve Even More”. Hogwash! We cannot conserve our way out of this
drought. As water policy it ranks right up there with counting on an August gully washer.
Then Eric Larson, San Diego County Farm Bureau executive director on the
same page in “Harsh Conditions Taking Huge Toll On County Farmers” whines
about the loss of farm revenue and the high cost of irrigation water. He
talks as though we are dependent on SD County avocado growers for our supply
of that water-thirsty product when in fact only five percent of all avocados
grown originate in San Diego County. “Harsh conditions’? San Diego’s climate
is the same as it was when Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo first anchored in
San Diego Bay.
On an elevator wall in San Francisco there was a scribbled saying: “Drugs
are for those who can’t stand reality”. It’s time to get real. There are two
reasons San Diego finds itself in an increasingly desperate water crisis. 1)
We live in a desert. That may come as a surprise to Mr. Wornham and Mr.
Larson. 2) Even at an average precipitation of slightly over ten inches a
year, it is less than half of the rainfall we need to grow crops for the
seven thousand farms in this County. By the way, we have more farms in this
county than any other county in the entire US, a fact Mr. Larson seems to
Meanwhile we continue treating wastewater from hundreds of upstream cities
on the Colorado River at three locations in San Diego, use it once and dump
over two hundred million gallons every day into the ocean, three Hundred and
sixty-five days a year, with no plans even think about potable recycling for
over two decades into the future. One factor is a sure thing. When the dust
devils blow through the unfilled area behind San Vicente and the water level
in Lake Mead drops further, only San Diego water users will be held
accountable for not conserving enough.
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