Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Restoration, One Small Step at a Time

The first article describes in detail why there are water woes in CA. To summarize, when they started distributing water rights, no one actually did a calculation to see what normal water flows were, did a conservative estimate and did not let more than 90% of those rights be committed. No, in the voice of economic advancement, almost 800% of the available water was committed. Just think of that. Eight times the amount of water available was committed to projects and then as the water was unavailable people (fisherman who no longer have salmon, farmers with dry fields, etc.) became upset. Yet, the price of buying these rights is still cheap. When I left CO, it cost > $1200 per acre foot (326,000 gallons) unit. The unit was determined annually based upon snowfall, so you could get between 20-100% depending upon snow pack. Here in CA, I have heard anywhere from $300-$500 dollars for an acre foot. Why so cheap. And because water is unavailable, the farmers started punching in wells and dried up aquifers with the ground sinking in some cases up to 6 feet. The aquifer just shrunk and even if it were wet, it would never expand to take in all the water that was drained. The State Water Resources Control Board forgot to regulate well permits and water rights. OMG!!!!! Other western states do that continually.

The other article has to do with restoration of creeks, etc. The process is called daylighting, or bringing old drainages and creeks out of culverts under the streets and buildings back to the light of day. At least in small sections. I know they did this to a creek in Arvada when we lived there. I was surprised it happened, instead of putting in a new culvert and building over it. And the results were pretty, raccoons, foxes and small animals showed up quickly. I am guessing, since this is interconnected to bike paths, creek paths and river basins, there will be the occasional deer and coyote showing up, if not a bear or cougar eventually. In the Berkeley example, it will probably be just small animals, but every little bit helps. The appearance of nature in a city just brightens the whole day. I have often wondered what could happen if some of the rivers and drainages in LA could be if they were taken out of cement channels. I know car chases could not then be filmed there (think Grease), but how cool would it be to have to have restored duck habitat. Yes, it would produce mosquitoes, but ....


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