Symposium addresses drought's impact on valley

Symposium addresses drought's impact on valley

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - As our valley expands, the demand for our most precious natural resource continues to grow. But scientists and policymakers say the supply is dwindling rapidly, fueled by the historic drought.

"If it becomes a two or three-year drought and the supply from the Colorado River gets cut back, then it will be kind of gut time," said Gary Wockner, coordinator of the Save the Colorado River campaign.

The Coachella Valley, like many parts of the state, relies heavily on the Colorado River, which replenishes our aquifer. Experts at Thursday night's symposium say the river is severely threatened and we need to be prepared.

"Focus much more seriously on water conservation and be aware of the impact we're having on the natural ecosystem," Wockner said.

They say the solutions for this statewide water crisis lie in the hands of both individuals and municipalities.

"The message is everybody can conserve water, on both the large scale, say farming and industrial scale, down to each individual household," said Doug Barnum, Chief Scientist at the UGSG Salton Sea Science Office.

Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) wants California to improve and incentivize water conservation. At the symposium, Boxer announced water legislation bill W21, "Water for the 21st Century."

The proposal includes strategies for water recycling, new technologies, and drought preparation. She wants your input before it's signed into law.

"I am excited about this legislation, and it is a work in progress, but we're going to get it done in a few weeks," Boxer said of the four-prong proposal.

Another focus of discussion:  the state of the Salton Sea. Boxer wants the restoration of its fragile ecosystem to remain a priority.
"If we don't act to save the sea we will have a public health emergency, an economic catastrophe, a social justice issue and a wildlife crisis. Now if that isn't a call to action, what could there be," Boxer said to a wave of applause.

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