However, Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech has noticed a far more immediate problem – the state has only one year of water supply left in its reservoirs and the backup groundwater is fast disappearing.
Some of the groundwater presently being tapped is estimated to be 20,000 years old. He proposes that “It will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon.”
AllGov California reports:
“Vance Kennedy, a retired research hydrologist in the Central Valley, told the Center for Investigative Reporting, “What I see going on is a future disaster. You are removing water that’s been there a long, long time. And it will probably take a long time to replace it. We are mining water that cannot be readily replaced,”…
…At the risk of rendering his proposals dead on arrival, he says action must happen now. Although the February Field Poll (pdf) says 94% of Californians understand we are in a serious drought, only a third want mandatory rationing. Tough. They have to suck up heavy rationing, as do industry and agricultural sectors, Familglietti wrote…
… “Our state’s water management is complex, but the technology and expertise exist to handle this harrowing future.” We have one year to show some recognition of the problem and do something real about it.”
Everybody agrees that something needs to happen soon, and the next step is finding the right people to manage the problem.
With the right level of infrastructure asset management planning, the problem may be addressed in time, but sacrifices will have to be made by everyone in California if they are to continue having enough water to live on.
The alternatives to a realistic program of water demand management are likely to include the need to install hugely expensive water desalination plants, that have very high capital, operational and maintenance costs relative to more traditional water sources.
It will be interesting to observe California as they develop solutions to this complex problem.