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It’s worth reading this opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, which offers some perspective on the future of Southern California water supplies.

The piece, written by oceanographer William Patzert and Metropolitan Water District Chairman Timothy Brick, makes an important point: The current supply shortage that San Diego faces is not solely the result of protections for the endangered delta smelt, the tiny three-inch fish that lives in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and faces possible extinction.

Fixing the drought won’t just mean a fix to the delta’s plumbing problems, they write.

The vanishing Sierra snowpack could be a symptom of climate change, and it’s not the only one. Downstream, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the hub of California’s water system, is in severe environmental distress. And Southern California groundwater basins and reservoirs aren’t being replenished most years.

Here, though, is the kicker — a suggestion the current problem won’t be fixed solely on the supply side:

The way Californians have been using water is simply not sustainable. We have no choice but to use less and to pay more for it.


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