Aug 10 2014
Water-The Third Rail Part XXV Failure of Nerve
This blog has previously mentioned the book, “The Failure of Nerve” by Edwin H.
Friedman. It is a book all leaders should read. In today’s UT San Diego many
column inches are devoted to water issues and the drought. One is “Crunch
Time To Rewrite Water Bond, Atkins Warns by Chris Nichols and the other is
an unsigned editorial, “Water-Stopping growth won’t solve state’s water
problems.” Both of these pieces speak volumes about the lack of effective
leadership to provide reliable water sources.
In the water bond article, Tony Atkins says we need to pass a six billion
dollar water bond issue, three billion of which is for new storage projects
and in the growth piece, the editorial writer spends way too many words
chastising those who would limit growth as a resolution, but offers little
in the way of solutions.
It is true growth will occur naturally, providing there is sufficient water.
However people are not stupid, if the drought continues for another three
years (which it could according to historical averages), people are going to
move where the water is. No moratoriums are necessary. We are already seeing
this in the Central Valley where millions of acres are being abandoned. And
that is as it should be. The concept of providing water to grow crops where
the rainfall is ten percent of the amount required is a failure of monstrous
proportions. The Bureau of Reclamation needs to recognize this fact.
So those who are charged with water policy decisions in California are
making sure the citizens of the state are given first priority? Wrong. The
Department of Health has a hierarchy of need that places fish first, not
humans. And that is where much of the water bond money will be spent, not in
the development of new reliable water sources. Screwed up? Absolutely!
While there is a smattering of mention about desalination plants, do you see
any mention of potable recycling for Los Angeles and San Diego? No. So the
centers of the most population in California continue to import water, treat
it to drinking water standards, and then dump it into the ocean. Is this
In the book mentioned at the top of this blog, the author makes the point
that in all decision making, often the wrong question is being asked, and
when the right question is finally postulated, the right answers are
forthcoming. But this takes political will, something we are woefully short
of in the ranks of those charged with water policy.
It is not a stretch to forecast California, especially Southern California
is in for a rude awakening. When there is no more water to store, and all
that can be conserved is conserved, our current political leadership will
have moved onto greener pastures (little play on words here), leaving the
remaining folks to deal with the results of their failed water policies. Is
the situation hopeless? No, but all signs point to disastrous consequences
unless the leadership does a one eighty to face the water issues head-on.
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