JPL climatologist on California’s future and water


JPL Climatologist Bill Patzert has some fascinating observations about water in California. Here’s a few excerpts. Read the whole interview.

In Southern California and L.A., the average rainfall is 15 inches a year. That supplies enough water for about 5 million people, but right now there are 20 million people between San Diego and Santa Barbara. So all of us are either drinking Sacramento Delta water or Colorado River water. California depends on the biggest water infrastructure project in the world. There’s nothing like it anywhere else. Twenty percent of all the energy in the state of California is used to move water. Fifty percent of the energy generated at Hoover is used to move water from Lake Havasu to Hemet.

So even without climate change, we’re pushing the boundaries here. We’re doing something that is pretty illogical. Take Beverly Hills. It looks like a rain forest.

I think many communities right now get about 50 percent of their water from groundwater. I would say that we could go from, if we really cleaned up our groundwater systems—a process that’ll take decades; we could go from a 70 percent dependence on imported water, dropping that to maybe 30 or 40 percent.