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Too many straws have emptied the bucket

This story out of Texas could be played out in California very soon.

Every day we take for granted a number of things:

  • The lights will come on when we touch the switch,
  • Water will flow from the tap when we turn it on,
  • Food will be plentiful, fresh and available at our local grocery store.

I recently wrote here about an effort in Central California to form a new water district with all the authority to delegate who gets water when and for what.

This is the consequence of failure to act decisively.

For decades mankind has stuck straws in the ground to tap water to meet the needs of urban dwellers and farmers alike. In some cases this hasn’t been necessary except for the few do-gooders who claim that water is best left to keep bait fish alive for the local bass population, or because of some ancient salmon run along a stretch of river that used to be dammed for just such a use, but is now not dammed because dams are bad for the fish, even though dams kept the fish populations healthy.

Whether it is the salmon run on the Klamath River in Oregon, the Delta Smelt in California’s San Joaquin River Delta, or a tiny community in Texas that has no water, the American West is in dire straits, and we’re not talking a rock band here!

Sadly, the Texas town of Barnhart is just the first of many that will have to suffer before larger cities begin to feel the effects of over drafting underground aquifers. It is going to take taps running dry in cities the size and power of a Las Vegas, Dallas or Los Angeles to move this issue along, but they have their own myopic focus that must be changed first.

How many communities like Barnhart will have to be sacrificed to the environmental gods opposed to on-stream water storage will it take before we realize that those dams we used to have were truly a good thing? How much more water could be effectively stored for human and environmental uses by the careful placement of dams along tributaries large and small?

I recall as a child hearing discussions of raising Shasta Dam in Northern California to achieve even more storage. It never happened.

We can’t continue to balk at tried-and-true ideas that work. The West is running out of water for everyone!

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