True Drought or Bad Water Management?

CTN has been keeping track of Pacific Palisades’ rain fall (with help from the late Ted Mackie) since 1942. Over the years rainfall has been relatively constant. The average rainfall in Pacific Palisades is 13.78 inches of rain, which has been measured from July 1 to June 30.

Mackie reported that the driest cycle was the five years between 1987 and 1991, when Pacific Palisades received less than 10 inches of rain each year.

The five wettest years were 1978, 1983, 1995, 1998 and 2006. The most rain recorded here was 42.60 inches in 1997-1998.

The five driest years on record were 1976, 1990, 2007, 2012 and 2014.

Since 1942, the driest season in the Palisades was 4.11 inches in 2006-2007.

Fast forward to 2022 into 2023, on December 27 and 28 there was .5 inches of rain and at the end of December into New Year’s Eve there was 1.3 inches of rain. Another .1 inch of rain was added January 2 to 1 p.m. on January 3, which brings the total for the season to 6.6 inches of rain.

Heavy rainfall is predicted to start in the a.m. on Wednesday, January 4 and last through Thursday, January 5.

Residents might ask, given the statistics, why is drought and the subsequent higher water prices in the news?

Not only are consumers paying more for water, which is now on a tier system, but many residents have replaced lawns with drought tolerant, native plants to save water.

According to the latest Census data, California has also lost 343,230 people, which should mean less water is needed.

Tom Coleman (former general manager of the Rowland Water District) and Federico Barajas (executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority) wrote in a January 11 Daily News piece (“Water Conservation Is Not Enough”) that agriculture has become part of California’s $3.4 trillion economy.

Water is going to support agriculture, but existing infrastructure that has been damaged such as the San Luis Canal, the California Aquaduct and the Delta-Mendota canal have not been repaired.

There has been no movement to increase water storage systems such as the Sites Reservoir and expand existing reservoirs such as the San Luis Reservoir or the Los Vaqueros Reservoir. “These improvements which have all been decades in development, will capture enough water from extreme rainy seasons to supply over 3.8 million households a year,” Coleman and Barajas write.

They also point out that legislation is needed to streamline permitting for ocean desalination, brackish groundwater treatment and stormwater capture.

“Conservation is not enough to solve this problem,” they say, and add “Now is the time for the state to eliminate environmental logjams and bureaucratic red tape to start building these projects and solve its water supply crisis.”

In the meantime – stay dry this week.

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