Engineers have chance to help California to save water resources
“California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?”
As a rabid Detroit Lions fan, I discovered Twitter was an amazing tool to have at my disposal last month.
The NFL’s free agency period opened Tuesday, March 10, and in the preceding weekend leading up to the unofficial ribbon cutting of the new season, I was glued to my computer. I continuously refreshed my Twitter timeline on my computer or smartphone, anxiously awaiting an update regarding the team’s attempt to re-sign stalwart, but mercurial All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Suh decided to take his talents to the Miami Dolphins for a record defensive player contract. About 30 minutes later, the Lions quickly made a trade with the Baltimore Ravens for another All-Pro defensive tackle, Haloti Ngata.
The majority of this football news happens in a flurry after the window opens for teams to make trades and signings. During the month of March my Twitter timeline basically was filled with wall-to-wall NFL news.
So when something other than breaking football news hits my screen that makes me take notice, it is easy to say that story is of great importance.
On March 13, I started seeing people retweet and comment on a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece entitled “California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now?”
Oh boy, that is not good news.
The piece —w ell-written by Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and professor of earth system science at UC Irvine — lays out a plethora of troubling facts for the most-populated state.
• NASA satellites show the total amount of water in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 34 million acre-feet below normal in 2014.
• California has been losing more than 12 million acre-feet of total yearly water since 2011.
• Nearly two-thirds of those losses since 2011 can be attributed to the use of groundwater for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley of the state because farmers pump more groundwater during droughts.
• A recent Field Poll reports that 94% of Californians believe the state’s continuing drought is serious and a third support mandatory rationing of water.
Famiglietti mentions the state should ramp up the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014, requiring the creation of multiple regional groundwater sustainability agencies by 2017. Results of the Act might not be known for more than 20 years.
Famiglietti’s final point says California needs its leadership and brightest minds to get together and solve this problem. This is a moment for our industry to lead the way. While California’s water resource issues are top of mind today, do not lose focus on the big picture.
The scarcity of water will continue to pop up as an issue here in the United States. For example, a U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation study of the Lower Colorado Region from January 2010 to December 2015 confirms what most experts know: “There are likely to be significant shortfalls between projected water supplies and demands in the Colorado River Basin in the coming decades. Following the call to action of the study, all that rely on the Colorado are taking initial steps – working together – to identify positive solutions that can be implemented to meet the challenges ahead.”
This industry cannot solve all the problems; we’re not miracle workers. But, we can play our role to help the team achieve great success.