CSAC Regional Meeting in Kern County Focuses on Water
March 9, 2017
In a matter of months, California has gone from one of the most severe droughts in recorded history to some of the most significant flooding in three decades. Water is vital to the whole state, but the Central Valley in particular relies on a water supply that is not nearly as stable as it could be. That’s why CSAC chose to focus attention on water with a regional meeting in Kern County today.
The Sierra snow pack, non-existent a couple of years ago, is so deep this year that some reservoirs could stay full into late summer. But there is no guarantee these conditions will continue. And even in abundant years, there is good reason to be wise about how we store, transport and use this precious resource.
“Kern County is the center of the state, and the epicenter of the drought for the past five years.” said CSAC First Vice President and Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez. “We’re a microcosm of the state, with agriculture, residential and commercial water uses all right here,” So managing California’s water issues remains a critical part of governing locally, regionally and statewide.”
Supervisors and senior staff from nine counties attended the Kern County Regional meeting for a series of panel discussions that focused on ground water management, water quality and the potential to build more water storage in California. The panels included experts from the state, Public Policy Institute of California, local water districts, environmental health, and Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley, who is also President of the San Joaquin Water Infrastructure Authority.
“We don’t have enough surface water storage to meet all of our needs, and we can’t keep pumping as much groundwater as we have been,” said Supervisor Worthley. “One answer is to store more surface water but building reservoirs is costly, so we have to find the right way to pay for that, in addition to all of the other environmental and operational considerations.”
It is Mark Twain who usually gets credit for the saying that in California “Whiskey is for drinking, and water is for fighting over.” There may be some truth to that, but at the CSAC Regional Meeting, we also heard that while water policy is complex, we can make progress with state and regional cooperation.
“We have to be able to ask tough questions, and have difficult discussions about these issues,” said Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo. “Because underground aquifers and water basins don’t follow county lines or water district boundaries. We have to cooperate with each other to find regional solutions that work.”