In Part Two of this text, we’ll explore supply-side management. A supply-side management approach to water concentrates on securing more water supplies through engineering feats. Supply-side management was frequently done by building massive engineering projects to move water hundreds of miles. While they were impressive projects at the time, today, there are more significant regulatory hurdles to building supply-side projects, including environmental regulations. The difficulty of building major infrastructure projects has led to more work being done with exploring alternative supplies and reducing demand.
For a long time, human beings have related to nature as if nature was something to be conquered. In the United States, until the 1960s, the natural environment was viewed as mostly inconsequential to expansion and development. The environmental movement, beginning with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and continuing with the Cuyahoga River catching on fire due to pollution in 1969, began to change the way we related to nature. Perhaps nature wasn’t something to be vanquished as an enemy. Perhaps nature isn’t limitless. As you examine four large public works projects in California, it is important to keep the shifting mentality of these times in mind. Each project was a feat to build at the time, and in some cases seen as a battle of man against nature. With current regulatory requirements, these projects would be just about impossible to build today.
In Part Two, we will cover these topics:
- Water Development Projects
- Los Angeles Aqueduct
- Colorado Aqueduct
- Central Valley Project
- State Water Project
- Alternative Water Sources
- Recycled water
- Gray water
Water Development Projects
The primary challenge in water supply planning in California is usually framed as spatial. Most of the water is in the northern part of the state and most of the people live in the southern part of the state. In other words, the supply does not exist where the demand is. However, there is an additional challenge as well. Much of California receives water during the winter and early spring when the demands are the least, and not during the summer and fall when the demands are the greatest. This creates a temporal (time) challenge because the supply has to be stored until it is needed.
The map below shows the population centers in the Bay Area and Los Angeles Area as well as the volume of storage at various reservoirs throughout California. Notice how storage is concentrated in central and Northern California away from Southern California. This frames many of the water development projects.
Thumbnail: The Second Los Angeles Aqueduct Cascades, located in Sylmar. (CC BY-SA 3.0; Los Angeles via Wikipedia)