I Dought it’s a Drought; Time Will Tell.

The water systems I worked with were mostly black steel, but the plant had a lot of PVC piping in the water purification system. Not only was it all plastic piping but the majority was 5 inch (12.7 cm), not only is it an odd size it is an extremely odd size. To make matters even more tricky it was all schedule 80, the grey pipe, there was none available on the West Coast; all of the 5″ piping on the site had to be replaced, the plant was shut down.

November and February during many years are the two months of the year with great weather. During those years people exclaim about how strange the weather is, when all along it’s more normal than not. There have been nasty years as well, one in particular was around February of 1990, I may be off a year or two. During that winter the temperature in the central valley where I was working stayed below freezing for over a week. Every exposed water pipe froze and burst causing a shortage of piping of all kinds.

That was an extreme year, most are like it is this year, more often than not the first declaration of drought is sounded. I marvel at how in California every year I have been here (since 1970) no matter how much rain is received it’s still a drought. That should be the normal expectation, but we treat it as if it is an anomaly. It isn’t this is a desert for the most part once we venture from the Ocean heading East it’s not long until a visitor realizes it is at best semi-arid.

There are over 2,000 reservoirs in the state storing water, plus the Delta in the North supplying water to the population. 75% of the precipitation California receives falls on the Northern 1/2 of the state. Stored behind Dams it is cycled through the Delta sending 80% of the water South. 20% is left in the Delta for the Northern Farmers and Municipal uses. Of the 20%, 1/2 or 10% (50% of the total remaining in the Delta) is used as a hydraulic dam at the Carquinez Strait to keep the salt water from infiltrating the estuary.

No rain has fallen in the North during the month of February, we are not officially in a declared drought but we may soon be. What difference a declaration means I’m not sure but most likely has to do with water distribution causing new guidelines to kick in.

March and April have the potential to change the entire scorecard on rain, some years both months are savage. A high pressure area will develop West of the Golden Gate causing the storms to make a wide swing around the state. During those years Oregon and Washington States are normally being drenched by the atmospheric river we hear about on occasion. That high pressure ridge will eventually dissipate allowing the rain to enter Northern California then flow Eastward toward the remainder of the Country. The advantage is while the ridge remains there the weather will be springlike and clear, I won’t complain about it too much; at least not until August when it sets in again.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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