World Water Day And Water Crisis In California

San Francisco

San Francisco

Today is World Water day and naturally there are lots of stories, photo essays and interviews about water and how millions of people around the world have no access to water. The hashtag #worldwaterday is trending on social media and is helping create awareness about water right from paucity of water to how to solve the problem of water.

For folks in California we are consumed with our own water crisis. California is entering its fourth year of drought. A lot has been written and discussed about California’s drought that you can read here, here and here.

Is the state going to run out of water? That was the headline that dominated the news a few days ago when Jay Famiglietti wrote an op-ed in Los Angeles Times (LA Times) about California’s water crisis. He wrote:

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

Familglietti  is a hydrologist senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine. He is working on a book about the disappearance of ground water all over the world.

Apparently that comment of Famiglietti was misunderstood as this Los Angeles Times article explains.

Famiglietti said it gave some the false impression that California is at risk of exhausting its water supplies. The satellite data he cited, which measure a wide variety of water resources, show “we are way worse off this year than last year,” he said. “But we’re not going to run out of water in 2016,” because decades worth of groundwater remain.

So, California is not going to run out of water but that there is a water problem in the state. Governor Jerry Brown recently announced a $1 billion relief package,  then there is the restriction on watering your lawns. Some folks have been talking about rationing water, but the question is how do you effectively implement and monitor such a solution?

While policy makers are figuring out how to handle the water crisis there are innovators, technologists and entrepreneurs, who are focussed on finding solutions to handle this on-going water crisis. For instance there is Dean Kamen’s “Slighshot” that can take any kind of water and produce potable water.  Here is a video interview I did with filmmaker Paul Lazarus about Kamen’s invention.