Urban Fold

California Draining

Decades of massive hydrologic engineering have altered California's ecology out of equilibrium and will be unable to support present demands, warns Rachel Olivieri.

"California has spared no expense to either taxpayers or natural ecosystems to attain its status as the most hydrologically altered landmass on the planet. About 42 MAF of the state's runoff is captured and diverted through six major systems of reservoirs and aqueducts...Nine out of every ten acres of riparian woodlands are gone, along with ten thousand grizzly bears that once roamed the valleys and foothills. The loss of mega and micro flora and fauna is beyond counting.

The Bay Delta, the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers...is not on the verge of collapse, it is collapsing. Historic flows from the Delta to the Bay have been reduced by half, increasing saltwater intrusion into the freshwater system.

Without considering global warming, a century from now all man-made reservoirs that are not full of silt will nonetheless have lost their operational capacities to support agriculture, prevent floods, and serve human population centers.

California's water infrastructure is aging and degenerating. The older it gets, the more problems it has. The massively altered watersheds, accumulating the burdens of dams and diversions, have lost the stability of equilibrium."

Full Story: Is California on the Brink of Environmental Collapse?

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