No April-Fools Joke – California’s Water Reality 

Despite record rainfall in Sacramento on Tuesday and seemingly lots of rain during the month of March, there was no “March miracle.” Rainfall totals, reservoir levels and overall snowpack remain critically low as we head into the spring melt. For example, Sierra snowpack readings conducted on April 1 indicated that – even with the recent storms – Sierra snowpack is still less than a third of normal for this time of year, and only 23% of normal in the northern Sierra. This is no joke!

COMM KT BlogImage Downstream 2014 04Conference-goers at the 23rd annual California Water Policy gathering in Claremont contemplated a number of possibilities for dealing with the current drought and planning for future episodes. “There’s always money to do what people want to do,” suggested Cynthia Koehler, Executive Director of WaterNow. “It’s just a matter of prioritizing and political will.”

We understand that air pollution is bad, so we pay more at the gas pump for cleaner fuel and air quality improvements; but watershed protection is 3 or 4 times removed. Until we get people to understand how upper watershed management is critical to their lives and livelihoods, and until we get policy- and decision-makers to demand source water protection as a matter of course, we will continue to suffer the effects of limited, impaired and unreliable water supply in California.

This is why SBC is working to invigorate a Sierra-based “coalition of the willing” – to more effectively make the case for why upper watershed protection is so important, now and into the future. The coalition will be working on ways to increase investment in the upper watershed through inclusion in the 2014 water bond, better access to other state funding programs, and more creative permanent, long-term funding mechanisms to support necessary conservation and restoration work in the State’s largest reservoir: the Sierra Nevada.