Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The "City by the Bay" is Running Out of Water

San Francisco's "plan" for water is to: 1) make the Hetch-Hetchy pipeline "earthquake-proof" and 2) begin towards a back-up desal plant and 3) pump for post-earthquake supplies from groundwater. There is no question that 1 will happen before 2. Groundwater mining has yet to confront public review (meeting due this month). Issues of saltwater intrusion and contaminated existing groundwater will undoubtedly come up in the review. Recycled water will always plug the dikes for a little while. In the meantime, the Gov is pushing ahead on the diversions to the Central Valley.

The real problem is that no one wants to stop running from one place to the next for water. Instead regions in California need to stop what they are doing, sit down and get an assessment of their situation and make a long-term plan that goes beyond the status quo. Without reducing population, stopping diversions to urban and rural users, or developing comprehensive regional plans, there are no solutions that anyone can rely on. All the public officials are really doing is coming up with stop-gap measures at best. It is certainly NOT a long-term water supply plan.

"Average annual supplies [in the San Francisco Bay Region- MZ] with existing water management programs are inadequate to meet average net water demands in this region, resulting in a shortage of about 30,000 af by 2020. During droughts, without additional water management programs, annual drought year shortages are expected to increase to about 484,000 af by 2020."

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