California is getting hammered with rainwater again this winter after a historic rainfall in 2023 pulled the state out of a years-long drought.
On Wednesday, Fox Weather reported the West Coast is bracing for yet another storm system after a long current of wet air known as an atmospheric river hit Los Angeles, killing three. Several parts of southern California recorded more than 10 inches of rain, according to a local CBS affiliate, with L.A. water totals “tied for the 10th wettest day in LA history” as officials scrambled to address more than 130 flooding incidents with mudslides and downed trees.
The atmospheric flooding might have brought some temporary relief to the drought-stricken state, with local water managers projecting confidence about water supplies throughout the year.
“I’m very confident that we will not need drought restrictions in 2024,” the head of the Orange County Municipal Water District told The Orange County Register. But drought restrictions will almost certainly be back in a state where decades-long dry periods are the norm.
It was just less than two years ago that more than 97 percent of California was suffering drought conditions considered “severe.” L.A. residents were limited to watering just two days a week, eight minutes a day (15 for sprinklers with water-conserving technology), outside the hours of 9 a.m., and 4 p.m.
California hasn’t built a new large dam in more than 40 years. While Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined half a dozen ways last year the state is attempting to capitalize on the rainfall, pre-existing infrastructure can only store so much. California needs a new major reservoir, but anti-development environmentalists have blocked new projects at every turn. In December, far-left groups filed another suit to block the Sites Reservoir, a Sacramento-area project that’s been stuck in the planning process for more than 60 years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, nearly 95 percent of rainwater into the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta flows back to the Pacific. The backflow might not be a problem if state officials ramp up desalination efforts, which extracts seawater to form freshwater and salt.
In May 2022, the California Coastal Commission unanimously rejected plans for a $1.4 billion desalination project that would have brought L.A. residents 50 million gallons of potable water per day. The state water commission went on to approve a smaller, similar project expected to produce 5 million gallons of potable water a day starting in 2027.
Officials hope the new plant to join California’s 12 existing desalination operations will take some pressure off the Colorado River system at the center of controversy among western states, which rely on the river to support 40 million people.