During the last few years, California’s drought situation has become more and more dire. While a large chunk of it is self-inflicted by the state, as they release an incredible amount of water from dams each year for environmental purposes instead of, you know, agriculture and people, part of it is also that rain and snowpack build have been well below averages in the past. Northern California still has restrictions going on, with Southern California, facing another hot summer, may face a scenario in some areas where water may run out if usage stays as high as it is now.
California isn’t the only state suffering. The majority of Western states are also facing droughts, with some now facing a decision to either release water for people or hold it back in dams to continue to generate electricity. One dam, Glen Canyon, is at such a perilous point that environmentalists are now clamoring to have it torn down again to return the area to its original beauty before it was constructed. Many are horrified at that scenario, especially New Mexico and Utah, which rely on electricity and tourism. But many states down the river, especially those relying on electricity from the Hoover Dam and states like California relying on that water, stand to benefit.
But that just shows how bad it is for everyone. At this point, the U.S. Government has to decide who to screw over.
For decades, we have known about the water issues and many proposals have been offered to redesign dams, destroy dams, shift grass heavy properties to more natural sustainable vegetation, and other similar ideas. While some have worked to some degree, as have common sense water restrictions, it’s not nearly enough and something big needs to come.
The most promising solution has been desalinization, or making seawater drinkable. While there are currently 12 such plants in California, including the large Carlsbad plant in San Diego County, they are currently only making a dent in the states water needs. For a state like California, more desal plants are needed. The problem is, the California Coastal Commission (CCC), backed by environmental groups, have been putting the brakes on many of these projects. The most notable, in Huntington Beach, was denied just last month mostly due to environmental issues.
And look, we get it. The environment in California is delicate, but there needs to be a workable solution here. Where I grew up in Cleveland Ohio, we had our own environmental hazard. It was called the Cuyahoga River (along with Lake Erie, but that one is another story), and we somehow made water on the river catch on fire due to the pollution well through the 20th century. Even when I went to school in the area in the 90’s and 2000’s, well into it being restored to it’s original grandeur, the river catching on fire in the 50s and 60s was still one of the many, many barbs people outside the area would throw at us. But we always pointed out how there was a problem with the water and we fixed it. Same thing with Flint and their water problems with lead in more recent years. Problem, work it out, solution. And the result – the water is now drinkable once again.
California’s drought is a different kind of problem of course, but it still relies on more than just work arounds – it needs a firm solution. Or, at the very least, something to lessen the effects of the drought while other solutions are found. Cleveland, Flint, and so many other Eastern cities found solutions for pollution and got their fresh water back. California needs one for drought. And desalination is the best one after having natural rain and snowpack increases come out of the blue.
The need for more desalinization plants in California
“Huntington Beach alone, the plant there, would bring in 50 million gallons of freshwater a day,” said Alonzo Taylor-Morgan, a water control specialist, to the Globe on Wednesday. “LA alone uses 524 million gallons a day. One plant alone won’t solve that. But get a bunch around the coast and team it up with common sense water usage? We’re not talking about putting a dent, singular, in there. Get in a bunch going down the coast, maybe even look at other sources like the Salton Sea for this, and you have a real workable solution in place.”
“When the snow pack comes back and we get out of the drought, then we work on refilling reservoirs with this water and find other viable storage techniques when, not if, a major drought comes back. That’s the smart solution.”
“Oh, and these plants? We’re talking about a lot of jobs on everything from engineers to maintenance to environmental monitors. Not to mention construction, and in the case of the Salton Sea, bringing jobs to needed places. And who knows what technology can bring us. Maybe some offshore oil platforms scheduled to go down in the coming years can be refitted for these plants. Yeah, bit of a stretch now of course, but who knows what the future can bring.”
“Desalinization is by far the best option we have though combined with reasonable restrictions during drought years. But so many people don’t want to hear it because they think it can be environmentally damaging, even though they really aren’t. California needs to make some hard choices coming up, but desalinization shouldn’t even be a choice. It should be a need, at least where we stand now.”
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