Editorial: Drought and flood, California’s double whammy

LA Times

by The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board

Once-vanished Tulare Lake is reappearing in Corcoran, Calif. Still, the winter’s prolific rains haven’t erased a two-decade drought. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)


“And the sobering truth is that California’s recent dry streaks have not yet matched the two-decade drought underway in the Colorado River Basin — but they could. The flooding we’re getting this spring, and that could get worse later this year, is a mere hint of what we can expect from a so-called ARKstorm (for Atmospheric River 1,000). The last such megastorm came in the winter of 1862 and put much of the San Joaquin Valley — and a good chunk of Los Angeles — underwater. Scientists say we’ll be getting one of those again, although they can’t say when.

The California of the foreseeable future will continue to be a remarkably livable place, perhaps with fewer almond and pistachio orchards, because those trees can’t survive weeks of soaking roots in wet times and because there will be insufficient water to keep them alive in dry times.

Some valley landowners may follow the lead of ranchers who sold their land to organizations such as River Partners. That group’s Dos Rios floodplain restoration project at the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers west of Modesto is a good template for the future — with river-adjacent land where floodwaters can be directed in years like this one, doing no damage to homes or crops, replenishing the depleted groundwater, restoring native plants and nurturing juvenile fish and other wildlife.”

Keep reading the full piece from LA Times.