The Associated Press out of Sacramento today reported that amid a severe drought, California officials announced that it is now a fact that they won't send any water from the state's reservoir system to local agencies beginning this spring.
No kidding! This is real big deal, and as unprecedented a move as there can be.
Their move affects drinking water supplies for 25 million people and irrigation for 1 million acres of California farmland.
Chuck Bonham, director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, urged everyone to come together during the crisis, saying,"This is not about picking between delta smelt and long-fin smelt and chinook salmon, and it's not about picking between fish and farms or people and the environment. It is about really hard decisions on a real-time basis where we may have to accept some impact now to avoid much greater impact later."
The announcement marks the first time in the 54-year history of the State Water Project that such an action has been taken, but it does not necessarily mean that every farm field will turn to dust and every city faucet will run dry.
The 29 agencies that draw from the state's water-delivery system have other sources, although those have been hard-hit by the drought as well.
Many farmers in California's Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country, also draw water from a separate system of federally run reservoirs and canals, but that system also will deliver just a fraction of its normal water allotment this year.
A few months ago, a couple of friends who live in the San Joaquin Valley told me horror stories of losing wells for the first time in 40 years. And no, they are not alone.
There a many farmers in the valley who are paying hundreds of thousands of their own dollars to get water to their orchards, fields, and livestock.
The government hasn't helped them in the past, so they have had to go it alone.
The announcement today affects water deliveries planned to begin this spring, and the allotment could decrease if weather patterns change for the worse.
Of course, it could also increase if more storms hit the state in the next few months.
About 12 years ago, I remember us going through the same sort of drought conditions with a dry winter. That January and February were especially bad, but a so-called "March Miracle" saved the day.
Ten years or more have gone by and the State of California, governed by Democrats and other Environmental Extremists, have done absolutely nothing to prepare for this.
People have taken a back seat, and now 25 Million people and over 1 Million acres of prime farmland that helps feed the world is in danger.
Yes, you can thank tree-hugging environmentalist nutcases for part of the problem. They're only concerned with their own short-sighted ideals.
Too bad, as usual, their real world education comes at the expense of others.
Now, hopefully, not even those tree-hugging loons can ignore the problem as Friday's announcement put an exclamation point on California's water shortage - which has been building for some time now.
"This is the most serious drought we've faced in modern times," said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board.
"We need to conserve what little we have to use later in the year, or even in future years."
The California Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said there simply is not enough water in the system to meet the needs of farmers, cities and the conservation efforts that are intended to save dwindling populations of salmon and other fish throughout Northern California.
For perspective, California would have to experience heavy rain and snowfall every other day from now until May to get the state back to its average annual precipitation totals, according to the Department of Water Resources.
"These actions will protect us all in the long run," Cowin said during a news conference that included numerous state and federal officials, including those from wildlife and agricultural agencies.
Friday's announcement came after Gov. Jerry Brown's official drought declaration in mid-January, a decision that cleared the way for state and federal agencies to coordinate efforts to preserve water and send it where it is needed most.
The governor urged Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.
Imagine that for a moment, cut back by 20%!
But does anyone in Northern California really believe that the folks in Southern California who take their cars to car-washes every other day and keep their swimming pools filled are going to cut back at?
Does anyone really think the folks in Los Angeles are worried about crops and food?
I'm betting not many! At least, not many who know better!
Fact is, this announcement reflects the severity of the dry conditions in the nation's most populous state.
Though back East and down South have been hit with record breaking snow storms, officials here in the West say 2013 was this state's driest calendar year since records started being kept - and this year is heading in the same direction.
A snow survey last week in the Sierra Nevada, one of the state's key water sources, found the water content in the meager snow-pack is just 12 percent of normal.
Reservoirs are lower than they were at the same time in 1977, which is one of the two previous driest water years on record.
State officials say 17 rural communities are in danger of a severe water shortage within four months. Wells are running dry or reservoirs are nearly empty in some communities. Others have long-running problems that predate the drought.
The timing for of Friday's historic announcement was important: State water officials typically announce they are raising the water allotment on February 1st. Instead, this year's winter has been so dry they wanted to ensure they could keep the remaining water behind the dams.
The announcement also will give farmers more time to determine what crops they will plant this year and in what quantities.
Lord Help Our Farmers And Ranchers!
Besides lack of help and more hindrance from the State and Federal Governments, farmers and ranchers throughout the state already have felt the drought's impact.
They have been tearing out orchards, fallowing fields and trucking in alfalfa to feed cattle on withered range land as never before.
And where Real Estate speculators from the San Francisco Bay Area see this as a good thing because they see money strapped farmers and ranchers as targets to sell, others see the opportunists as nothing but sharks who sense blood in the water.
Without deliveries of surface water, farmers and other water users often turn to pumping from underground aquifers.
Though some counties are attempting to do it, as far as I know most counties and the state governments have no role in regulating such pumping.
"A zero allocation is catastrophic and woefully inadequate for Kern County residents, farms and businesses," Ted Page, president the Kern County Water Agency's board, said in a statement.
"While many areas of the county will continue to rely on ground water to make up at least part of the difference, some areas have exhausted their supply."
Groundwater levels already have been stressed, after pumping accelerated during the dry winter in 2008 and 2009.
"The challenge is that in last drought we drew down groundwater resources and never allowed them to recover," said Heather Cooley, water program co-director for the Pacific Institute, a water policy think tank in Oakland.
"We're seeing long term, ongoing declining groundwater levels, and that's a major problem."
Yes, it's all the same "Blah,blah, blah" when every emergency takes place. Just a lot of lip service from politicians and agency heads and think-tanks that don't produce anything other that hot air.
Many towns and cities already have ordered severe cutbacks in water use.
And yes, if you hear someone say that some rivers are being reduced to a trickle and that fish populations also are being affected - no one is lying to you and pulling an Obama.
Fact is, eggs in salmon-spawning beds of the American River near Sacramento were sacrificed after upstream releases from Folsom Dam were severely cut back.
All in all, the drought highlight's the traditional tensions between groups that claim the state's limited water for their own priorities — farmers, city residents and conservationists.
But for me, more than anything else it throws a spotlight on the California Democrat Party in the State Capital in Sacramento who have complete control on the legislature - if they didn't owe their seats to the Environmentalist Groups who put them there, then maybe we would have more reservoirs for just such an emergency.
Sooner or later, even the bought and paid for Democrats in control of California are going to have to admit that the reservoirs water system today was built when the state only had half of its present population.
One would think that even Democrats are smart enough to figure out the common sense fact that since the population has doubled - we subsequently need more water storage.
Maybe that's the reason a jackass is the symbol of their political party? As everyone knows, you can't fix stupid!
Story by Tom Correa