Water Shortage or Population Longage?* California Drying Up
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In February, California's snowpack was above average and had high water content. But now state water officials are talking Drought.

It's funny how experts will discuss diminished Supply at length, but never mention the greatly increased Demand part of the equation. Certainly the immigration source of the state's exploding numbers figures strongly in the reticence to speak honestly.

A population of 38 million means there is no wiggle room at all — even a slight shortage of rainfall creates a crisis: Need to deal with water needs crucial (San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2008).

State water officials reported Thursday that the Sierra Nevada snowpack, the source of a huge portion of California's water supply, was only 67 percent of normal, due in part to historically low rainfall in March and April.

With many reservoirs at well-below-average levels from the previous winter and a federal ruling limiting water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the new data added a dimension to a crisis already complicated by crumbling infrastructure, surging population and environmental concerns.

"We're in a dry spell if not a drought," said California Secretary for Resources Mike Chrisman. "We're in the second year, and if we're looking at a third year, we're talking about a serious problem."

Chrisman stopped short of saying the state would issue mandatory water rationing, which appears possible only if the governor declares a state of emergency. Rather, the burden will fall on local water agencies. Many, such as San Francisco and Marin County, have asked residents and businesses over the past year to cut water usage voluntarily by 10 to 20 percent.

* "Longage" is a perfectly fine word, meaning excess. The late population analyst Garrett Hardin employed it convincingly in 1991 — From Shortage to Longage: Forty Years in the Population Vineyards.
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