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BLOG: California Almost Out Of Time for El Niño Drought Relief

The window is closing on California’s opportunity to have El Niño put a significant dent in the state’s epic drought — which one study has shown to be the most severe in 1,200 years.

Snowpack in California’s Sierra Nevada range, a significant source of the state’s water, is definitely doing better than it did in 2014 and 2015, as the animation above shows. But with statewide snowpack standing at just 88 percent of normal for this time of year — the heart of the snow season — it really needs to do a whole lot better. (In the southern part of the Sierra, snowpack is at just 78 percent of normal.)

We Should Stop Wasting Water

As most of you know, water remains one of the most pressing issues facing our state and region. Whether or not our drought is ending cannot yet be determined, though future droughts are a certainty.

I have long supported initiatives that would increase local water supplies. While a member of the Escondido City Council, I was an early supporter of the `toilet to tree’ plan. I joined with Escondido Growers for Agricultural Preservation (EGAP) to support using recycled wastewater to irrigate the citrus and avocado groves on the city’s perimeter. Since the capacity of the city’s outfall pipeline that delivers Escondido’s excess wastewater to the ocean is insufficient for future growth, a costly upgrade will soon become necessary. Instead of spending millions to upgrade the pipeline, Escondido is now building the first part of a multi-phased project to deliver this water to local farmers and other users. While this solution won’t work everywhere, the plan could become a model for the entire state.