California Farm Water Coalition, State Water Contractors and others react to snow survey results
Here are the reactions that I’ve received so far, in alphabetical order. Others will be added as I receive them:
From Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition:
“Today’s announcement that California’s snowpack is a mere 32 percent of normal is continued bad news for farmers throughout California that grow the food consumers find at the store. With the state’s major reservoirs only half full there is little chance that farmers will be able to recover from this year’s dismal water supplies.
“Along with the looming hot summer, farmworkers, truck drivers, food processors and handlers and others will face layoffs and difficult economic times. An estimated 20,000 farm and farm-related jobs will be lost this year costing California’s economy about $7.5 billion.
“Sadly, hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water flowing through the Delta from the few recent storms to hit California will not be used to grow crops. Federal regulations and inflexible environmental water managers prevented that water from being put into storage for use later in the year. Instead, while posing no threat to Delta fish species, water pumps were left to run at a minimum while the water flowed by to the ocean.
“We’re through the looking glass. The water system our predecessors built to provide for farms, homes and businesses is instead being used to support environmental purposes that have absolutely no accountability. People need to think about that when grocery prices spike this summer or the produce they find on the shelves is imported from offshore sources.”
Source: CFWC statement on snow survey
From the California Water Foundation:
“For the fourth time in 2014, California water officials trekked across the Sierra Nevada Mountains today to measure water content of the snowpack – an indicator of how much snow will melt and flow in to California’s rivers, ultimately making its way to cities and farms throughout the state. More snow was present than in previous surveys, but water content in statewide snowpack still measured at just 32 percent of average. Despite recent storms, the drought in California persists and the state is bracing for continued dry conditions as we move in to the summer. The following is a statement from California Water Foundation’s executive director, Lester Snow:
“This bone-dry winter is illustrative of California’s new reality—more extreme droughts and floods should be viewed as the norm. Unfortunately, the state is woefully unprepared to deal with the volatility of climate change and the challenges brought on by a growing population, conflicting water demands and aging water infrastructure.
“The drought has highlighted our collective failure to adequately invest and adapt to 21st century needs. In order to make it through the current drought, and be prepared for the next one, California must reinvent the state’s approach to managing a finite water supply. The backbone of a new approach must be collaboration. We must work together across regions and implement solutions that focus on diversifying water supplies, investing in state-of-the-art conservation and better managing groundwater basins, which are our greatest buffer against drought.”
From the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“Critically low California snowpack measurement was reported today by the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) in its annual April snow survey, revealing the snowpack measurement is at its lowest since 1988 – the fifth lowest reading since snowpack record-keeping began in 1930. With severe to exceptional drought conditions already crippling more than 95 percent of the state, the latest snowpack results serve as a dismal signal of how little water will flow into California streams and rivers that normally replenish the state’s reservoirs in advance of dry summer and fall months. The snowpack – often called California’s largest reservoir – normally provides about one-third of the water used by the state’s cities and farms.
Natural Resources Defense Council Water Program Director Steve Fleischli made the following statement:
“Recent snow and rains have made only a small dent in California’s historic drought, meaning we’re headed into summer with far less snowmelt available than normal. For far too long Californians have used more water than we can sustain and done so in ways that are not as efficient as we could. This system of too little supply and too much demand is finally catching up with us.
“And as climate change becomes the “new normal,” our water woes will only get worse. We need to rethink projects that cost billions, take years to build and aren’t going to help anytime soon. This drought is a critical opportunity for our leaders to step up and invest in what works: strategies that improve water efficiency and tap underused local supplies.” … ”
From the State Water Contractors:
“The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) conducted one of the last snow surveys of the year today and, despite recent storms, the state’s water supply outlook remains dire. The survey determined that water content in the state’s snowpack is just 32 percent of average for this time of year.
Throughout the winter months, the state measures how much water content is in Sierra Nevada snowpack, giving water managers a predictor of how much water they can anticipate flowing into the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, and then to homes, businesses and farms. This winter, snow was barely present, leading to an unprecedented allocation of zero percent for State Water Project (SWP) contractors. This means the 26 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland that depend on the SWP for a significant portion of their water supplies will likely go without it in 2014. Further straining the situation, public water agencies must continue to pay for a full allocation of water—amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars—even though they may not receive any actual deliveries.
“Even a March miracle would not have lifted California out of this drought. Water agencies across the state will be faced with finishing out this year, including the upcoming summer, without much needed State Water Project supplies,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors. “Conservation efforts have been significant, but won’t be enough to protect water agencies and their customers from the impacts of losing such a major portion of their water supplies.” … ”
Continue reading the rest of this statement here: Snow Survey Leaves California’s Water Supply Lacking