California’s Water Crisis

Half Full or Half Empty?

I think that the California water crisis is sad, but I had this thought the other day: it is the Left’s own doing.  For now the mantra is that the water crisis is all the farmer’s fault because they are allowed to use as much water as they want.  (See here for a good analysis of this myth.)

The real problem is the left.  The environmentalists.  Using the same tactic of “protecting the environment” they don’t want to allow the building of new resevoirs to contain ground water runoff and use it for human and agricultural consumption.  This was widely reported with Gov. Brown made his historic declaration on water restrictions.  However, the blame has now shifted to the farmers.

Growing up in the Atlanta, GA area, I was not a stranger to water restrictions.  I  was very thankful that my parents didn’t see the necessity to water the lawn, even when allowed, due to the fact that meant I needed to cut it more often.  But every year in the summer months, watering restrictions and car washing restrictions were imposed to conserve water.  The drought in Atlanta became so bad in 2004 that the news was counting down the days of water left in the local resevoir, Lake Lanier.  However, part of the problem was that the river that Lake Lanier is dammed from is navigable downstream to the Gulf of Mexico for barge shipping, so a minimum water level had to be maintained from the resevoir if it was not coming from ground water runoff due to the drought.  Yet Atlanta adapted and survived.

California’s water crisis is an environmental crisis that is 30 years in the making.  The state has been growing and growing with a water system designed and developed over 30 years ago.  The solution is to transport more water from northern CA to southern CA where it is needed.  But this plan has risks, as it takes away water from northern CA farmland.  A proposal the northern CA residents don’t like.  And with good reason, you are robbing the rural “haves” with the urban “have nots.”  No reason northern CA needs to suffer at the hands of southern CA woes.

The other option would be to invest in water desalination plants.  I.e. making fresh water out of salt water.  Yet again, the left worries about the impact of dumping salt back into the sea that it will harm the animals.  There goes that idea.

Another solution is to turn to thorium.  Thorium occurs naturally and is capable of being “burned” in a molten salt nuclear reactor (MSR) to create heat that is used to turn a turbine to create electricity.  The technology is vastly different from the commerical nuclear power plants in use today and it offers significant safety advantages.  Again, the left is against anything nuclear, even safer, less radioactive nuclear which MSRs are.

However, the big advantage is that MSRs operate at about 700 degrees Celsius and the waste heat can boil water for desalination.  So, your are generating electricity and drinking water (for free).  Add to this the fact that certain MSRs can be coupled with gas turbines to make “peak” electricity cheaply as electric demands necessitate.

All these are solutions that could be implemented.  California’s water problem would have been a conversation of the past and the state could be leading the way towards furthering economic development for the rest of the world.  Yet, the left says No.  I say No to the left.

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