Water Water Everywhere

Wednesday, Jun 8th, 2011

As I sit here watching the graphs of the various rivers and reservoirs, I am amazed at how much water we have received this year and how little of it we will be able to put to good use, be it for irrigation, domestic (read drinking water), generation or even the environment. I recently found out that a few weeks ago, enough water was spilled from Bullards Bar Reservoir during a three day period to completely fill Collins Lake (the Browns Valley Irrigation District water supply reservoir) twice over. And this is with the snowpack just now starting to melt, which means that even more water will be lost this year.

Meanwhile, the latest forecast on climate change says that the snowpack will diminish over time with a larger percentage of precipitation falling as rain. This tells me that mother nature’s water storage reservoir aka snowpack will not hold as much water in the future as it currently does and that if mankind, or at least California wants to maintain the existing level of water availability (not to mention future needs), we really need to seriously consider new storage. This new storage can include on-stream storage, off-stream storage and increasing the size of existing dams, such as Shasta. These new storage facilities will need to be done in a fish friendly way i.e. upstream of an existing dam or off stream and filled using a screened diversion. The point is, if we don’t get started soon, we will experience reliability issues before we can increase our storage capacity.

Walter Cotter
General Manager
Browns Valley Irrigation District

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