California cities could run out of water

Shasta Lake in drought

The clay sides of Shasta Lake loom tall and bare with the drought

Last week, the governor of California made it official. California is going through a serious drought. We residents have known this for some time. Nice to know he finally agrees with the obvious.

A recent drive north brought home just how devastating the drought is. Shasta Lake, with all its twists and turns, looks more like narrow rivers, with hundreds of feet.of tall clay banks overlooking them. Mt. Shasta, normally covered with snow and its ski resort in full swing, looks instead as if it were deep summer. Naked but for slim fingers of glacier near the top, it sits as a stunning reminder of what should be and isn’t.

An article in today’s San Jose Mercury News brings more devastating news to California residents. It detailed how 17 cities in our fair state could run dry within 60 to 120 days.Wells are running dry in some areas while reservoirs (such as Shasta Lake) are dangerously low.

Most of the affected water districts have so few customers that they can’t charge enough money to pay for backup water supplies or repair failing equipment, leaving them more vulnerable to drought than large urban areas.

California droughtDave Mazzera, acting drinking-water division chief for the state Department of Public Health, says State health officials are in discussion with leaders of other agencies, including the state Office of Emergency Services and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to work on immediate solutions. That could mean everything from trucking in water to the health department providing emergency funds for drilling new wells or connecting faltering systems to other water systems.

“On the Central Coast, they have in the past looked at desalination,” said Bill Croyle, director of the state Drought Task Force and an official with the state Department of Water Resources. “So if we lose our groundwater and surface water, we are going to go to the ocean. It is going to be expensive, but you bring in mobile plants and fire them up.”

As many other states are discovering, there is no easy fix for the situation we’re in. We’re playing catch-up when all indicators were there to be seen for some time. Desalination could be one solution but it won’t solve immediate needs. We’ll see what our politicians and water districts come up with in the interim.

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