I have often heard Californians who claim to be concerned about water conservation in the state say, “Why do we let the rivers flow to the sea? »
I hear them, and I have no idea what they mean.
I mean, that’s what rivers do. They run to the sea. Flow, flow of the river, and all that. We live on a blue planet, not on an artificial man-made construct.
It’s not because I think the Pacific Ocean needs the addition of the fresh waters that have flowed for thousands of years from the few rivers we have in Southern California and the many rivers in central and northern of California in order to stay filled.
Is that…really? I just don’t understand the question. Yes, we have an ongoing drought and water crisis in California since large numbers of people have lived here for over a century. We’re not Oregon, or Washington, or British Columbia among the west coast places. We don’t get much rain and we have more people than these states and one province.
But rivers are not a commodity from which we can draw water to drink and irrigate our dichondria and wash our cars as if that were its primary use.
Flowing rivers do not “get lost”. They give life to riparian plants, trees and all the wildlife that lives alongside this flora.
This is where the fish live.
And it is true, as you will see, that I am personally a fisherman. I’ve fished trout in Oregon and California – a few other places, including Vermont and Scotland, if less successfully – since I was 10 years old. But the fact that I catch browns, rainbows and golds in the rivers, especially those in the Eastern Sierra, isn’t the only reason I’m all for the rivers that flow to the sea. , instead of stemming them.
It’s that, as scientist Barbara Robson says, “Preventing rivers from reaching the ocean causes enormous damage to coastal ecosystems. If rivers do not flow into the ocean, we lose much of the biodiversity, beauty, natural amenities and cultural values associated with coastal ecosystems. Many fisheries depend on the flow of rivers to the ocean. If we lose river flow to the ocean, we lose those fisheries. If rivers do not flow into the ocean, they do not remove excess pollutants, salt or nutrients. These accumulate over time. When Australia’s largest river system stopped flowing to the ocean for a few years, the Coorong (a major wetland system at the mouth of the river) reached a salinity five times that of the seawater, and the freshwater lakes just upstream of the Coorong were in serious danger of becoming acidic.
Californians who constantly groan that our decades of protecting Delta smelt instead of wiping out their habitat and using their aquarium home have a tiny little argument: you and I have never encountered a smelt. of the Delta. We do not fish, eat or interact with Delta Smelt.
And even. We have also learned, when we pay attention, that you disturb Mother Nature at your peril. You take all the wolves out of Yellowstone because you don’t like them killing livestock and stalking the very occasional human – do you know anyone who was killed by a wolf, as opposed to a car? – and the rest of the ecosystem suffers more than you can imagine.
You pull a thread and soon enough the whole sweater falls apart.
So, no, the answer to California’s water problems is not to dam more rivers. It irrigates with purple pipe water that has been recycled. It’s desalination. It further directs the rain that falls into our underground aquifers. There are no wet people without wetlands.
Larry Wilson is a member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group. [email protected]