Infrastructure funding key to avoiding continuous drought (Opinion)

Mike Wade
Guest column

All Californians are, again, caught in the grip of drought. Whether you live in the heart of a city, a quiet neighborhood, on a farm, north or south, we’re all feeling the pain.

With scientists warning that “boom or bust” water years are the new norm, we all knew we’d be back here again, but there are things we can do to avoid continuously ending up in this same situation.

First, we are simply not storing enough of our precipitation. Eighteen trillion gallons of rain fell in California in February 2019. Had we been able to capture and store more of that water, we could have mitigated the devastating consequences now facing us.

But even with more storage, if we don’t fix our aging and deteriorating water infrastructure, that water can’t be delivered to Californian’s spigots.

As we saw recently with the Oroville Dam, our complex system of levees, canals, and pipes and other infrastructure is in desperate need of repair. And the urgency of these needs demands that any legislation also include ways to expedite projects.

Homeowners and businesses have done their part by installing low-flow appliances and drought-friendly landscaping and farms have decreased their water usage by double digits. It’s time for our state and federal governments to step up and take the actions only they can.

If Californians want water for their homes, businesses and schools, vibrant farms providing fresh food for our families, and a healthy environment, our leaders must invest in our water supply infrastructure.

Mike Wade is the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition.

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