There were many political obstacles to overcome. Some environmentalists are opposed to building new water storage, for example. And many people in Northern California are firmly opposed to Governor Brown’s plan to build giant tunnels through the Delta to ship more water to the south.
But the biggest problem was probably that revealed by several polls this spring: a majority of Californians don’t believe there is a problem and thus professed unwillingness to vote for the state to borrow money for a water bond. Across party lines, most Californians general attitude is: “I have plenty of water in my house. What’s the problem?”.
I have written before about how seriously Southern California water agencies, particularly LA’s Metropolitan Water District (MWD) has taken this issue and how aggressive they have been in building new reservoirs, buying water rights, and paying for conservation technology. Since a large percentage of Californians live there, they are perhaps justified in not wanting to participate in a statewide effort. After all, while Northern California was pretending that drought would never happen again, SoCal was busy securing a permanent, drought-proof water supply.
I don’t have any answers to the water crisis confronting our state, but I know that we can’t keep increasing the burden on the existing system and expecting it not to collapse. The state government is the only institution that can guarantee that everyone who needs water — average people as well as farmers and fish — gets it. Water is not a partisan issue, and our leaders need to step up and forge a compromise that everyone can live with.
There is still time.