"What, water is limited?"
- Who would have thought it possible? And yet another day passes where the nimrods in the Democrat run state legislature do not act to build desalination plants.
California officials have allocated five times more water rights than nature can deliver, a new study by University of California researchers shows.
The study confirms prior estimates of the disparity, but goes further by describing the degree of over-allocation in individual watersheds across California. It also reinforces the position that the problem may be much larger since it only looked at a subset of California water rights – those allocated after 1914 and considered “junior” rights.
“It seems clear that in a lot of these cases, we’ve promised a lot more water than what’s available,” said Ted Grantham, the study’s lead author, who conducted the research as part of post-doctoral studies at UC Davis. “There’s never going to be enough water to meet all of these demands,” reports the San Luis Obispo Tribune. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
California’s system of water rights, overseen by the state Water Resources Control Board, is the primary means by which the state distributes its natural runoff to provide water for cities, farms and industry. In most cases, a property owner or government agency applies to the state for a water right or permit. If granted, it allows them to divert a certain amount of water directly from a river or stream.
Such rights, for example, account for all the water stored behind dams in the state, which is the primary source of drinking water for most Californians and irrigation water for crops.
According to the study, California’s total freshwater runoff in an average year is about 70 million acre-feet. But the state has handed out water rights totaling 370 million acre-feet. One acre-foot is enough to meet the needs of two average households for a year.
The rivers under the most strain, the research indicates, are virtually all that drain into the Central Valley, including the Sacramento, Feather, Yuba, American, Mokelumne, Stanislaus, Tuolumne, Merced, Kings and San Joaquin rivers. Others near the top include the Salinas, Santa Clara, Santa Ana and Santa Ynez rivers.
The study was published in the current issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters. It was conducted by analyzing more than 12,000 water rights issued by the Water Resources Control Board. It examined those issued after 1914, the year California adopted its system of water-rights regulation, because only those rights had sufficient data available from the state, Grantham said.
The researchers then used streamflow data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey to establish baseline natural runoff volumes for about 4,500 sub-watersheds across the state. These data were then compared to the water rights, which in many cases allow diverters to withdraw far more water than the stream can produce in an average weather year.