Weird times in California water

Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee

Not sure I’ve ever seen a more perfect juxtaposition of California water issues than on Wednesday.

While Department of Water Resources engineers were inspecting a giant gash in the Oroville spillway, with the reservoir rising rapidly and a critical need to dump water downstream, the same state agency simultaneously announced a new report showing that the ground in portions of the San Joaquin Valley has continued to sink due to excessive groundwater pumping.

Of course, the subsidence report examines a time span from spring 2015 to fall 2016. The erosion problem up at Oroville happened just this week.

Still, the seemingly contradictory events shows how complicated and nuanced water issues are. Yes, we can be in a drought and a flood at the same time. Abundant rain and snow is not always explicitly “good” or “bad.” Quite often, it may be both.

Unfortunately, in today’s 140-character world, many people don’t have the time or willingness to accept such complexities. Check that: They have time. They just don’t want to.

Postscript: Almost forgot. The state water board extended emergency water conservation rules Wednesday, as well. These are strange times.

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    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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