Editorial: The feds can curb a foolish California water giveaway
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (a government agency) released its latest “Statewide Capacity Forecast Report” (pdf here) this week, which purports to be a “review of California’s water resources … in light of the potential effects of climate change.”
The Bureau’s most recent report is based on two previous reports, both of which were based on climate modeling, but both also failed to forecast accurately California’s future precipitation. This latest report is based on a single simulation of a climate in which it is assumed “the entire precipitation and runoff in California will shift to regions where precipitation is less extreme while runoff will shift to regions where it is more extreme during the summer months.”
Unfortunately, this simulation doesn’t actually do any of that. Instead, it assumes that the entire precipitation and runoff in California will shift to regions where precipitation is less extreme while runoff will shift to regions where it is more extreme during the summer months.
That is, the Burecom forecast the California rainier climate for the long term. No actual climate model can accurately predict how precipitation or runoff will actually vary with temperature and humidity, and climate models don’t project that much rainfall or runoff in California in 50 years.
A new report in Nature Climate Change (pdf here) by a group of scientists and atmospheric scientists at Columbia University and elsewhere suggests that California is about to lose half of its water supply.
California’s current water supply is so precious that the state has to rely on water purchased from the federal government to get to 60 percent of the state’s water supply.
But in 2007, California reduced the amount of water that flowed from the Merced River to the Central Valley from 1,700 acre feet to 350 acre feet. And that was a drop from the previous year.
So why does the Bureau of Reclamation want to reduce the amount of water flowing from the Merced River to the Central Valley from 350 to 200 acre feet? The Bureau is looking to put restrictions on water rights holders, which is fine with me, but it sounds more like a