The atmospheric rivers that began pummeling California right after Christmas have produced more than enough snow in the Sierra Nevada and rain everywhere else to provide relief to those parts of the state dependent upon Mother Nature and the State Water Project for the bulk of their water needs – not permanent relief, but a timeout to regroup after the three driest years on record.
The State Water Project is the very definition of volatility. High precipitation years like 2017 and 2018 that follow deep droughts like the 2014-2016 period prove capable of providing immediate relief. One good year can and will restore a great deal of lost reserve capacity in the 1,500 holding tanks (reservoirs) that California constructed in the first 70 years of the 20th Century to provide that portion of Southern California’s imported needs supplied by the State Water Project. There is nothing new about that. There is nothing new about going back into severe drought immediately thereafter either.
State Water Project
Allocation Allotments since 2014 Drought
However, one good year in California cannot and will not do much to raise the levels of those two mega-reservoirs known as Lake Mead and Lake Powell that supply water from the Colorado Basin. The water levels in both, which are at roughly 25% of capacity, barely above “dead pool” in terms of their ability to generate electricity, won’t rise much based off this one wet winter. And given that those levels were at 50% in 2014 when the state stared down it last spike in the current 20-year megadrought, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the federal government has directed the seven states that form the Colorado Compact to come to agreement on ceding 2-4 million-acre-feet of allocation on a permanent basis. Today’s hotter, drier conditions that have given rise to the worst drought in the Basin in 1,200 years aren’t receding anytime soon.
The golf community can do the math. Indeed, the golf community has been doing the math for years, working with local water districts/providers to in some cases wean itself off groundwater where aquifers are aggrieved, convert to recycled water where available, convert to warm season grasses, eliminate overseeding, reline lakes, invest in maximally efficient irrigation upgrades, and adopt new water saving technologies of all sorts.
And if we’re lucky we’ll be able to do the math and make further reductions in the game’s water footprint with a little help from the federal government. Courtesy of some intense lobbying by neighboring Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed by Congress and signed by President Biden in December contained $4 billion reserved for use by California, Arizona, and Nevada as follows:
Of course, getting lawmakers and public agencies interested in treating golf conservation projects with the same interest routinely shown in other sectors won’t be easy; however, there is some interest, particularly in the Coachella Valley. No surprise there; the 120 golf courses in that geographically tight region are indispensable to its tourist driven economy. But there is interest elsewhere. Water providers and public utilities understand that water saved is water saved, no matter its application.
Are you interested in becoming an advocate for golf in California? The CGCOA is seeking amateur golfers who are passionate about protecting the game of golf and promoting public policies that enable golf to flourish in California. Take the next step to becoming an advocate for golf by completing the attached Golf is Good Ambassador Application.Read More →
FORE - The magazine of the SCGA. Find archived Public Affairs articles on the website of the SCGA's award winning quarterly publication.Read More →
Last Friday was the deadline for the filing of 2024 bills. Because 2024 is the second year of California’s two-year legislative session as well as a presidential election year, there were fewer bills filed this year than last. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a lot of filings.Read More →
It’s that time of year when we start to pay close heed to the status of the Sierra snowpack upon which so much of Southern California’s water needs continue to depend – a dependence that the region is busy working to reduce in favor of local supplies – e.g., storm water capture, aquifer replenishment, traditional recycling (non-potable), potable reuse, and desalination.Read More →
Back in early October we reported that the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) was set to hold its first public hearing on the Proposed Rule it published August 18 to effectuate what the Governor and others had termed “Making Conservation a California Way of Life.”Read More →
This is our Holiday message, and it is one of optimism. Yes, some of the challenges are daunting. But golf has proven over and over again that if it will organize itself around its many strengths, tackle the arduous work of communicating those strengths to all who will listen, and never succumb to cynicism and defeatism, it can not only survive, but thrive.Read More →
Affordable housing a big winner; local control a big loser. What might it mean for golf in California.Read More →
“CalMatters” is a nonprofit, non-partisan state news service that was created a few years ago to do the kind of in-depth journalism once routinely provided by newspapers and periodicals and now provided scantily if at all only by those media organs funded by charitable contributions or substantial enough to sustain deficits.Read More →