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 →
The 2023 session of the California Legislature closed in the waning hours of Thursday night. While some of 2023’s bills have already been passed on to the Governor and signed into law, many more are now on the Governor’s desk for signature or veto, among them AB 1572 (Friedman; D-Burbank), which proscribes the use of potable water to irrigate purely ornamental or non-functional turf.Read More →
As the legislature races to the finish of a session complicated by a budget deficit that cannot be known until the Franchise Tax Board receives Californians’ tax returns in mid-October, here is what we can report now about those bills the golf community has supported in the session, the bills the community has been tracking carefully, and one gut-and-amend job we have brought to your attention for what its fate may be able to inform us about the decibel level of what we have termed “labor’s roar” and others have called “labor’s hot summer.”Read More →
The SCGA is pleased to be one of the “supporting sponsors” of the “Colorado Basin Golf & Water Summit” October 12 in Las Vegas, a conference organized initially and primarily by the National Golf Course Owners Association (NGCOA) but secondarily organized and supported by the SCGA and many more.Read More →
Anyone over a certain age, and even those below a certain age, know something of Yogi Berra’s caveat about predictions – “predictions are a dangerous thing, particularly about the future.”Read More →
The Legislature is on summer vacation. The members return August 14 and adjourn for the year 31 days later on September 14. Bills that pass through both houses by that date move to the Governor for signature or veto. Before they go to their respective floors for final votes, bills must first get through the two Appropriations Committees, the places where controversial bills often find their final resting places.Read More →
We were awakened this morning to an editorial running in today’s editions of the Southern California News Group’s newspapers (SCNG) advocating for the resurrection of AB 1910. Its title: “Why not turn golf courses into homes?”Read More →
An op-ed in the Los Angeles Times during US Open week captured the attention of the golf and non-golf worlds. Its title: “The PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger isn’t the problem; Golf is.”Read More →