Initial Thoughts: Listen to the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come …

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Well, we’re approaching the end of 2012 and the beginning of a new year — 2013. As I mentioned last week, that’s just fodder for journalists to write comparisons.

So I’d like to take you forward as Charles Dickens did in “A Christmas Carol.” So I’ve called upon the “Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come” to be our guide.

I’m motivated to take this brief future vacation because of the “Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study,” which Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar released last week.

Niether he nor the authors and analysts at the Bureau of Reclamation compare to Dickens, but their future also includes some frightening elements.

The report acknowledges that the Colorado River is one of the most critical river basins in the country. Seven states, including Southern California, depend upon this water for their burgeoning population. Hydroelectric plants depend upon the river’s flow.

So it’s important. But did you know that the river’s water has been fully apportioned? Unfortunately, the upper states have yet to use their legal portion and the total apportionment already exceeds the 100-year average flow.

The projected supply and demand imbalance could be equivalent to the water for more than three million households by 2060. Sounds like the federal budget, spending more than available. But that’s another rant.

The reason this sad situation bears your understanding is Southern California is very dependent upon the river’s water. Cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego consume Colorado River water.

So what? Again, you ask why should we care.

Think HELP Center. Just as we try to help those who are unfortunatley in need, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come says those fellow Southern California residents near sea level may need help in the future. They’ll need, desire and crave water.

Idyllwild has three water districts, four if we count the Lake Hemet Municipal Water District only a few miles south.

They all have sufficient water for their current customers and residents. And that water is in the ground, not in the Colorado River Basin.

In fact, due to conservation efforts, the poor economy and a declining local population, consumers in all three local districts are projected to use the least amount of water in 10 years. Each district’s 2012 consumption will be about 20 percent less than the maximum in 2006 or 2007.

So the Hill sits on a limited resource whose value will continue to grow in the future. Again, you dismiss the import of this fact. So let me remind you of the Los Angeles water wars and expansion in the early 20th century. If you don’t like reading history and don’t want to repeat it, watch Roman Polanski’s 1974 film “Chinatown.”

While I don’t think the report requires immediate reaction, I hope the local districts will consider what might happen to them in the future if the Hill is one of the few remaining sources of available water in southern California.

Do we use it or lose it, protect it, hide it, or sell it? Are the three twigs stronger in a bundle than separate?

While the sky isn’t falling today, but like a chess game, the districts should be thinking a few moves ahead.

I’m sure the big city water honchos are.

J.P., Editor

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