Ag Today January 20, 2017

Wasted Opportunity? Farmers Frustrated As Water From Recent Rains Released

January 20, 2017 7:31 AM By Steve Large


NIMBUS (CBS13) – It’s a powerful picture: All the gates up at the Nimbus Dam, sending stored water gushing downstream.

The released water won’t be part of California’s drought solution.

“A wasted opportunity,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said.

Wenger says with climatologists predicting longer drought periods in Califronia, more reservoirs should be built to store more storm water when we do get it.

“We saw all the signs during the drought, ‘pray for rain,’” Wenger said. “Our prayers were answered. Now what are we going to do with it?”

California built its last major reservoir in 1979 when the population was 23 million people.

Now the population is 39 million people – 16 million more people, using the same reservoir storage supply.

Opponents of new reservoirs say they’re too expensive and inefficient.

“It’s a 20th-century answer to a 21st-century problem that we have going forward with increased droughts and climate change,” said Kyle Jones with Sierra Club California. “We’re gonna have to look at more innovate ways to create new water supplies.”

The Sierra Club promotes storage and better conservation.

There is a proposal for a new reservoir north of Sacramento in Colusa County.

Backers of the proposed Sites Reservoir are seeking several billion dollars in state bond money, approved by voters in 2014 in the midst of the drought.

The California Water Commission will decide whether to apply that bond money to the Sites Reservoir plan sometime in 2018.