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Is growth over? (Calif., water, LAT OpEd)

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 07:46 AM
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Is growth over? (Calif., water, LAT OpEd)

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's recent executive order certifying that California is in a drought and directing state agencies to start thinking about what to do about it is only the latest sign that a way of life built on cheap and readily available water is coming to a close. For much of the state, June was the driest month on record, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The continuing water crisis raises the question of whether we are approaching the limits of growth in California.

For the last century, it seemed there was no limit. More than any other state, California's economy and population exploded, a growth spurt fueled in large part by abundant water supplies. Now we may be at a turning point, especially in Southern California.

The most obvious indicators certainly point in that direction. Snowmelt in the Sierras, which historically has filled the state's major reservoirs and aqueducts, has been shrinking steadily. California's rights to Colorado River water have been gradually scaled back by regional agreements and mounting claims by other states. Court orders in response to environmental lawsuits aimed at protecting endangered fish species have slashed water deliveries from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta. And reduced rainfall throughout the region has made it increasingly difficult to replenish groundwater basins.

Initially, the public agencies responsible for ensuring water supplies were cautious in their response to the signs of a growing water crisis, perhaps fearing a political backlash from Californians who expect to be able to open a tap and let it flow, without limits, any time, anywhere, for any purpose. Adding a reservoir, drilling a few more wells or cutting deals with farmers to transfer some of their water to nearby cities helped soften, if not avoid, the effects of the state's growing water shortage. Now, however, the situation is becoming sufficiently dire that the water agencies are beginning to give the public a taste of what lies ahead.

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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-23-08 05:19 PM
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1. Insh'allah
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