California’s rainy season runs from January to April and so far it is very dry, though a quick look at the sky and the ground should tell you that. And we are also coming out of the driest year on record with a mere 3.38 inches of rain documented in 2013.
So what does this add up to? Gov. Jerry Brown is contemplating declaring a drought, which will ease ways to send water to where there is a need. While that may be a remedy for farmers justifiably worried about dry land and those in arid areas without access to reservoirs, it is a step which may be unnecessary if the high pressure ridge that is keeping away the rain subsides and our rainy season becomes just that.
That may be part of the reason why state officials, most notably Brown, have held off on a drought declaration. Wait and see is sometimes the best position.
Another reason may be that such a declaration would diminish the prospects of one of the governor’s pet projects — the Delta Tunnel project. Though touted as a necessary step for the state’s water goals, it has been derided by some as a tactic to deliver Northern California water to Southern California and all the perils that may go with that. So, if a drought is declared, water would be at a premium and any suggestion that it be sent elsewhere but the Delta Estuary may prove to be unpopular among voters who would have to approve a bond for the tunnel project to begin.
In the meantime, as reported by Daily Journal reporter Samantha Weigel in her story “Driest year on record” in the Jan. 9 edition, local water officials are less worried than their counterparts in other areas of the state because we have access to sustainable water sources like reservoirs. Unlike areas that rely on well or ground water, we in the Bay Area rely on the Hetch Hetchy water delivery system, a managed water supply.
Still, that should not mean that we need not worry. Many of us of a certain age remember the days of true drought and the conservation measures that were imposed on us (shared bath water, fewer flushes, dry lawns). And knowing the sky is dry is fact enough for most of us to be aware of our water use. Water is still a precious resource however managed and one that must be conserved at all times. The measures are easy, turn off the water when not in use, consider watering your outdoor plants less (especially lawns), leave bird droppings and dust on your car a little longer and don’t use water to clean your driveway. These are simple measures, but collectively can make some difference.
But declaring a drought? Though the governor is feeling pressure to do so, it’s best to wait.