Drought predictions get watered down

By Roddy Heckelman

Phoenix Lake’s spillway is now overflowing after recent rains this February.

Phoenix Lake’s spillway is now overflowing after recent rains this February and March.

Recent rains have quelled the mandatory rationing proposal by the Marin Municipal Water District. After the storm on the fifth thru the ninth of February, and 15 inches of rain, the Marin reservoir system increased from 53 percent capacity to 66 percent.

Marin’s reservoir system is now above 78 percent capacity, and at close to normal for this time of year. Although not much rain is in the forecast, the reservoir system has enough water to last Marin’s residents until next winter if necessary.

According to the MMWD, “We can confidently state that mandatory water rationing will not be needed this year.”

The recent downpour has put mandatory rationing out of the question, MMWD is still asking for a voluntary water use reduction of 25 percent. MMWD asks that residents of Marin turn off irrigation systems, only water plants when necessary, fix leaking or dripping faucets, and install water efficient toilets and washing machines in their homes. These steps will help residents of Marin save water, but more importantly save money in the future.

Although reasonable, this decrease in usage has less effect in reality than it does on one’s conscience, because roughly eight percent of the state’s water is for personal consumer usage, i.e. showers, washing hands, watering plants, etc. The majority of the state’s fresh water resources are used in agriculture, around 75 percent of the state’s water usage. The thirstiest of our water users are cattle and livestock.

Residents of Marin have little to worry about in regards to the drought, but across the state, the effects are much worse. Snow pack in the entire state is only at 25 percent of normal for this time of year, compared to 60 percent last year. As the majority of the central valley relies upon snow melt run-off for water, the potential problems are clear.

In regards to having minimal water resources over the next year COM Biology teacher Joe Mueller said, “It’s kind of complicated, but to simplify it, as far as water issues in California, whoever has the most power [money] gets the water.” He further explained that the big agriculture unions, lobbyist, and companies they represent are going to fight hardest, and most likely get first priority for water. “They will use the excuse of needing the water to maintain jobs,” said Mueller.

Historically this is correct. Whenever there is a shortage of water, the big agriculture companies in California take first priority, then industrial users, then the public citizens of the state, and finally the animals. With more money, comes more influence and power over the use of our resources, and this principle holds true even with our most valuable resource, fresh water.

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