Available water is closer than Mars

NASA is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to answer questions as to whether water is present on Mars. The success of the Spirit Rover in inching its way across the Red Planet’s landscape is being closely monitored by NASA scientists. That same concentration is also present in California as farm water users await the results of several studies linked to increasing the supply of water for use in our state.Several years ago the State and federal governments decided to work together to improve the conditions of the Delta by forming the California-Bay Delta Water Authority (CalFed). An annual average of 25.7-million acre-feet of water finds its way to California’s Delta, a maze of islands and waterways with few exits. The majority of water that enters the Delta moves through the San Francisco Bay and into the Pacific Ocean. The next major outsource are the pumps that direct water southward to farms, cities and wildlife locations.Rather than letting Mother Nature determine the timing of the water flows through the Delta, CalFed participants recognized that the benefits from water use would increase if assistance was provided to Mother Nature for water flows. Increased benefits would be registered by all interests in our state with predictable supplies and delivery of water.Farmers might feel a bit more comfortable knowing that the contracts they sign for water might actually result in a full delivery, something which has become rare in today’s farm water circles. Cities would know with greater assurance that when their residents turned their showers on in the morning that water would be forthcoming. And environmental efforts could experience an upswing in available water supplies.NASA’s effort to search for water on Mars has been met with enthusiasm by a nation of stargazers. The search for an increased water supply in California deserves an equal enthusiasm.News reports of the Spirit Rover’s journey across the Martian landscape indicate a slow, methodical process. California water interests know what it means to be involved in such a process.If California is going to take control of its water future then it must allow the CalFed process to continue. Support for the CalFed work is needed in the form of necessary funding and positive encouragement from our state’s water industry. CalFed has already identified several areas of study for increased water supplies. They include:* Development of approximately 250,000 acre-feet of in-Delta storage.* Enlargement of Shasta Lake storage by approximately 300,000 acre-feet.* Expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir by up to 400,000 acre-feet.* Development of a 1.9-million acre-feet of north-of-the-Delta offstream storage.* Development of 250,000-700,000 acre-feet of storage in the upper San Joaquin River basin.* Groundwater conjunctive management projects with total capacity of 500,000-1 million acre feet.These studies are ongoing and deserve the support of every Californian. Last year President Bush signed the Energy and Water Appropriations Act of 2004 that included funds for studying several of these projects. These studies must continue if California is to avoid a \\"finger-pointing\\" era in which one sector of our state attempts to take water away from another sector.Once the Spirit Rover set its wheels onto the Martian landscape, NASA scientists proclaimed, \\"we’re in the dirt.\\" Perhaps Californians can one day be known, as it relates to an adequate and manageable water supply, as proclaiming, \\"we’re in the water.\\"

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