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Easy steps to Beat Water ‘Crisis’

California has enough water. Surprised?

We hear endlessly about the “water crisis.” Politicians like Gov. Schwarzenegger and Sen. Feinstein are pushing to build more dams, at a cost of several billions dollars each. Even the Peripheral Canal has resurfaced as a solution to our crisis. But do we really need to pile on to the state’s debt and wait decades for these “solutions” to be built? Isn’t there a quicker, cheaper, smarter answer to our problems?

Let’s be clear. California certainly faces major water challenges like global warming and increased demand. So some people are rushing to build dams — expensive 19th century solutions to 21st century problems. We don’t need solutions that are expensive, destructive and useless. A little common sense shows us that the real answers to our problems are easy, efficient and smart.

Why dams don’t work:

  • Dams are expensive. Dams today are the most expensive option for water, costing billions of dollars each to build and maintain. Taxpayers could end up paying a bill that’s almost 50 times — yes, 50 times! — the cost of smarter solutions.
  • Dams are destructive. California already has lost 90 percent of our river environment. We have lost 95 percent of our salmon and steelhead habitat. Our commercial fisheries — and the communities they once supported — are barely hanging on as it is. Building more dams will only destroy more rivers and more fisheries.
  • Dams are useless. California already has 1,400 dams on our rivers. As a practical matter, there is very little water to collect behind new dams anymore. According to the state, new dams would provide even less reliable water than cloud seeding!

Why common sense does work:

  • Saving water is easy. Conservation really does work. California has cut its per capita water use by 50 percent over the past 40 years, even as the state has boomed. The city of Napa offers free low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and hose timers to help us reduce our water use. Simply using the tools we already have — like new appliances and drip irrigation — we can easily cut our water use another 20 percent and still support a growing population and even bigger economy.
  • Recycling water is efficient. Why spray clean, clear drinking water on our golf courses and median strips? We can use the rainwater than runs into our storm drains and recycle our wastewater. The Napa Sanitation District last year produced almost 700 million gallons of recycled water, nearly one-third of all the wastewater it treats. It distributed almost half of that to golf courses, and some vineyards and industrial parks use this recycled water as well. The proposed Milliken-Sarco-Tulocay project would be another example of using recycled water for irrigation. Through reclamation and recycling statewide we can save enough drinking water each year for 1.5 million households — roughly all of Los Angeles.
  • Storing water is smart. Every year, enough water for almost 3 million households — one-quarter of all the households in California — disappears into thin air behind our existing dams. It’s much smarter to store our water underground by allowing it to seep into the water table. In fact, we already store enough water underground to fill Hetch Hetchy 15 times over — and there’s room for much, much more.

These three easy steps easily beat billion-dollar dams and canals. Article at the Napa Valley Register

By Tony Bogar – Napa resident works with Friends of the River