Why California Insists on Wasting Its Scarce Water Supply
With the nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, drawn down to historic lows, the seven states that use water from the Colorado River have failed to agree on how to adapt to its dwindling flow. The impasse pits California against everyone else. If California’s political leaders had the political will, they could solve the problem for every member of the Colorado River Compact by developing infrastructure to use untapped sources of water. But to do that, the state Legislature would have to stand up to a powerful environmentalist lobby that views humans as parasites and demands rationing as the only acceptable policy.
Unlike anywhere else in the American Southwest, California can rely on so-called atmospheric rivers that saturate the state with enough rain to supply the state’s farms and cities with adequate water. Even in drought years, these storms blow in from the Pacific, hit the ramparts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and dump tens of millions of acre-feet of runoff into the streams and rivers. Californians can, and must, agree on new infrastructure solutions that will safely harvest more of this water for human consumption.