Monday, July 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Record drought sure to bring changes

elias column sig

By
From page A11 | January 29, 2014 |

There is no longer any doubt about it: Even if California gets a bit of rain and snow over the next few weeks – and there is very little in forecasts for most of the state through the end of the month – we are in the midst of the worst drought since the mid-1970s.

One good measure of this may be the levels of water in California reservoirs – a total of just under 7.7 million acre feet as of Jan. 5, compared with the typical average storage of about 12 million acre feet at this time of year. One acre foot represents about what a typical suburban family uses in a year. So California has only about 64 percent of its normal water supply on hand, one reason why Central Valley farms have been told to expect little flow from either the state Water Project or the federal Central Valley Project this year.

Even worse, snow levels in the Sierra Nevada, source of most California water, are only about 20 percent of normal, providing little hope for refilling reservoirs as they are drawn down further, short of a spring deluge a la what the state experienced in 1978.

It shapes up as an unmitigated disaster, one that some call as catastrophic as a major earthquake. This is a bigger problem than any wildfire, because it has the potential to cause multiple massive blazes. Some analyses indicate the ongoing drought was one major reason the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park burned so widely last summer. The state had gotten a record-low 4.58 inches of precipitation from January to June 2013, and then a major July heat wave added to tinderbox conditions sustaining that wildfire, the 14th most damaging in U.S. history.

So far, this drought has produced no major changes in state policy and practices, although some cities are already telling restaurants to serve water only on request, a 1970s-era tactic. But if past is prologue, as historians often tell us, we can count on bigger changes.

Here’s a little bit of disaster history: The Field Act, passed on the heels of the Long Beach Earthquake of 1933, changed forever the way schools all over California are constructed. After the 1971 San Fernando quake severely damaged the Olive View Medical Center, building standards changed radically for hospitals and nursing homes. The drought of 1975-77 produced major water conservation changes, among them wide government distribution of low-flow toilets. These now are standard in new homes.

What might result from today’s drought, which saw California get less rain and snowfall in 2013 than in any year since record-keeping began? Some politicians hope it will further the cause of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $25 billion “peripheral tunnels” project, which probably wouldn’t raise the amounts of water flowing south from the Delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, but could keep the flow steadier, thus smoothing out supplies for farms and homes in years like the past two.

The problem with this is that not even drought can change the high cost of that project. But strict water conservation measures that may come later this year could produce some votes for a $10 billion-plus water bond in November’s election, no sure thing to pass even under these conditions.

Most likely right now appears to be a much tougher set of rules regulating how much water farmers can draw from underground aquifers. Brown hinted strongly at this in his early January preliminary budget. There are currently few such restrictions, and in dry years, farmers who have wells pump more water than normal.

The preponderance of drier-than-usual years in the decade before conditions reached today’s point of actual drought caused more such pumping than usual, although no one can quantify it. One result has been land subsidence of as much as a foot per year in some areas. Driving some Central Valley highways today, motorists can see instruments and wellheads that once were on the surface perched 10 or more feet in the air.

Subsidence, in turn, can lead to problems moving surface water in canals, something water agencies cannot long tolerate, which makes it wise to expect regulation of groundwater pumping, among other new drought-spurred actions.

Thomas Elias is a California author. Reach him at tdelias@aol.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Rodriguez student collects, stuffs backpacks for others

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
30 years ago, Art Koch died keeping the city safe

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Relay for Life of Fairfield was super

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Weather for Monday, July 28, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Artistic ingenuity unhinged at Contraptor’s Road Rally

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Rockville Trail hike offered

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
National Alliance on Mental Illness meeting Monday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Summertime Fill the Barrel Food Drive ends Thursday

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Live music at Solano Town Center mall

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

County fair opens Wednesday in Vallejo

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Food preservation class at library

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Canines graduate from CHP training academy

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A3

 
GV Cellars to host Food Bank fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Suisun police log: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: July 26, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Business workshop addresses marketing

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10

Fairfield gets new pizza shop

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Renowned cardiovascular surgeon comes to NorthBay

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A10

.

US / World

Bills aim to bring family law into 21st century

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Family law bills proposed in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Man dies after lightning strikes 14 in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3

California governor to meet with Mexican president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Study: Blue whales at risk of hitting ships

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Gaza war rages despite Hamas, Israel truce pledges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Fighting intensifies near MH17 disaster site

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

.

Opinion

It’s clear: Israel wants West Bank, not peace

By Jack Batson | From Page: A8

 
Arrogance of power evident

By Earl Heal | From Page: A8

 
California’s death penalty dying of old age

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Editorial Cartoon: July 28, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
District needs peanut-free schools

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

.

Living

Today in History for July 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: July 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Randall: Why a ‘liar’ loves to hear from readers

By Sharon Randall | From Page: B5

 
My 33-year-old daughter blames me for all her problems

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

Horoscopes for July 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
.

Entertainment

Comic-Con: Kingsley voices animated villain in ‘Boxtrolls’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
‘Lucy’ tops ‘Hercules’ with $44M at box office

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con’s dark side: Harassment amid the fantasy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: ‘Hobbit’ cast tease trailer, bloopers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: 4 DC Comics brought to TV get event

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Radcliffe goes undercover as Spidey

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Ant-Man’ cast revealed: Lilly, Douglas, Rudd

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Blacklist’ fans get black fedoras

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

‘The Vampire Diaries’ takes bite out of Comic-Con

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Batman v Superman’ stare-down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comic-Con: Godzilla sequel announced

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Comic-Con: ‘Avengers’ unleash ‘Ultron’ footage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TV team: Actor, detective role paired for 25 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A10

.

Sports

McGloin buried on Raiders depth chart again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants lose in Peavy’s debut, swept by Dodgers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Lawrence Okoye preparing for the NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
 
It’s ‘Jeff Gordon Day’ at Indy for record 5th time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Jaso has 3 RBIs as A’s beat Rangers 9-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Horsey wins Russian Open in playoff

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Tim Clark rallies to win Canadian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Spain sweeps to victory in International Crown

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Langer wins Senior British Open by record 13 shots

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Mudcats take pair from Pro Player Baseball

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

The Big Hurt and Joe Torre headline HOF class

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali wins Tour de France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

LeBron deep-sixes number; will be No. 23 with Cavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Byron Scott says he will be LA Lakers’ new coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

This date in sports history for Monday, July 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Elizabeth Terry

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C. July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Get Fuzzy July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Wizard of Id July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku July 29

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Dilbert July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Get Fuzzy July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Rose is Rose July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C. July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Wizard of Id July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Pickles July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sudoku July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Bridge July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote July 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7