Assuring Water for California’s Future

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

In past decades, most people were unaware of the State’s contentious water issues. Today, due to the drought, Californians are very mindful of the need to conserve water and it is influencing the way many of us go about our daily lives.

Drought is just one critical challenge to our water future. The other challenge—not yet fully recognized—is the gradual loss of the snow pack that accounts for about one third of California’s water supply.

The snow pack acts as a natural reservoir equipped with an automatic release mechanism. The snow gradually melts every spring and summer, refreshing our water supplies when we need it most. But when temperatures are too high to build a snow pack, this precious precipitation rushes down rivers and streams, overflowing capacity and flooding populated urban areas. According to UC Davis Professor Helen Dahlke, in a wet year we can loose 15 million-acre feet to flood flows. This is water that we cannot afford to loose.

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