Wednesday, Jan 29 2014 08:28 AM

Now & Then: Time to think about water conservation

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I happened to drive past the Holiday Inn on a recent weekend day and noticed a woman sitting by the pool in a swimsuit. In January. Who in Tehachapi would have ever imagined this would be possible?

Other than an early December storm that brought not much snow, we've had the mildest winter that anyone can recall and this is the situation throughout California.

I saw a startling photo of Lake Edison, in the mountains above Fresno, recently; taken from the dam, it showed bare ground between a puddle of water and the surrounding pine trees.

On the Sequoia National Forest to our north, a wildfire continues to burn, sending smoke down toward Kern River Valley communities.

And in Southern California we've seen wildfires destroy homes; and state fire officials are telling us that in some areas fire season never really ended. Residents are advised to keep their brush clearances up and be prepared long before the time we usually have to worry about fires.

Of course, there is a chance that we'll have a "Miracle March" or some other phenonemon that will drop snow in the mountains and fill up our reservoirs.

And some people are pushing for a political solution, calling for a change in state policy that would leave more water for farms and cities and less for ecogical restoration.

Locally, we've heard some talk about water conservation, but mostly we've heard a message that suggests that our past water banking and other programs will get us through this drought.

But in Stallion Springs, there are real concerns about what continued high water use agriculture in the Cummings Valley will do to water levels. Efforts are underway to fund a study to examine just that.

Meanwhile, we're enjoying a mild winter, speculating as to whether we'll have a cold, wet spring, and I'm wondering when we might start to talk seriously about water conservation.

Tehachapi is pretty arid country in any year and were it not for the state water project brought in back in the early 1970s, we would not be seeing much of the development we've had, residential and intensive irrigated agriculture.

We're dependent on that state water and politics aside, it still depends on there being water... as in snowpack in the areas to our north and so far this year, it's just not happening.

It's something to think about. Our share of nothing is just that.

CLAUDIA ELLIOTT is editor of the Tehachapi News. Send email to: celliott@tehachapinews.com or call 823-6360.

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