Review of article by Jay Famiglietti

by Lynne Nittler

We’re all aware of the CA drought. We know we’re entering a 4th year, and it’s serious. But the analysis of NASA scientist Jay Famiglietti that we really have about one year of water left in our reservoirs is more than sobering.

It’s easy to be concerned about the dramatic record low temperatures and snowfall in the eastern U.S. this winter, but the record drought in CA is just as devasting and will be felt across the nation as it impacts our agriculture. What can we do?Check out two NASA charts.  (Just scroll past the Iditarod introduction.)  One shows the extreme highs and lows in the U.S.  The second shows the effect of the abnormal north/south loops of the polar jet stream – a fast river of wind in the upper atmosphere that controls weather –  on climate in the U.S. both in the west and the east this winter.

A slideshow of photos documenting the low water reserves

An op-ed by Famiglietti includes a 78-photo slide show with captioned photos of areas all around the state documenting the lack of water.

Short videos of policy-makers

It also has embedded a series of video pieces from Governor Brown to Peter Gleick and others addressing the water crisis, so readers can listen to them in quick succession.

What NASA satellite photos show

The surface and ground water depletion actually began in the beginning of the twentieth century, and was visible when NASA satellite photography monitoring began in 2002. Depletion due to pumping is largely due to agricultural use when surface water allocations have been cut off.

Immediate actions:

Famiglietti outlines some suggestions of what we should be doing immediately to face the truth of the dwindling supply of water.

1. “First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state’s water sectors, from domestic and municipal through agricultural and industrial.”

2. “Second, the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 should be accelerated.”

3. “Third, the state needs a task force of thought leaders that starts, right now, brainstorming to lay the groundwork for long-term water management strategies.”

4. “Finally, the public must take ownership of this issue. This crisis belongs to all of us — not just to a handful of decision-makers. Water is our most important, commonly owned resource, but the public remains detached from discussions and decisions. …we must demand that planning for California’s water security be an honest, transparent and forward-looking process. Most important, we must make sure that there is in fact a plan.”

Signs of hope from the business sector:  Connect the Drops

Ceres, a non-profit advocacy group, has coupled with businesses to help them cut back on water usage.  Their plan “Connect the Drops” states, “We cannot risk our state’s economic future by relying on outdated water management practices, policies and infrastructure. Now is the time for fresh thinking, shared purpose and bold solutions to build a resilient water future for all Californians. And it is incumbent on us—the business community—to help lead the way.”  Initial companies signing on include Levi Strauss & Co., Symantec, General Mills, KB Home, Coca-Cola Company, Driscoll’s and Gap Inc.  Their work is exciting!  Read about their efforts to conserve water in the business world here.