Every angler knows how important rain is; it fills our lakes and dreams of catching trophy bass. In the past few years the rains haven't been very plentiful. We have been suffering with drought for the past six years and even though we are all "Singing in the Rain" now, the truth is, we will need a lot more rain to fulfill our needs in the great Southwest.
The Colorado River basin is running lower than it has in many years. They have had to drastically cut back the releases from Lake Powell, reducing the amount of energy they can produce, to ensure that the water level won't go below the outlets. In fact, even if we started experiencing normal rainfalls, it is projected to take 13 years to regenerate the system.
Here in California, the drought is creating quite a stir. Farmers are fighting over water and in my area; wells are running dry by the hundreds. Well drillers are being kept busy drilling deeper wells in the area. One gas station owner near Bass Lake just spent $10,000 to install a new pump and other equipment just to have his well run dry in less than a week.
There is talk of building more dams in California, something bass anglers can be happy about. They are talking about a possible dam being built just above Millerton reservoir, near Fresno. The Temperance Flat project is being seriously considered but most still think it will be 15 to 20 years down the road.
Is building more dams a good idea? You bet it is.
The population of California is growing at a blinding pace and the pressure on an already over taxed water system will become unbearable.
Another factor to consider is that there is talk among the scientific community that weather patterns in California are changing. Naturally, it is believed to be caused by global warming. Whatever the reason, a pattern has been discovered that shows in the next few years the snow pack in California could be reduced by as much as 80 percent. The amount of precipitation won't be reduced, just the snow pack. The Sierra snow acts like a water bank; reduce the snow and you overdraw the account. This shows how important it is to build more dams to preserve what water we have.
In Southern California, the building of Diamond Valley Reservoir has proven that dams can be utilized in an efficient manner. Diamond Valley almost doubles the water storage capacity in Southern California and provides an excellent recreation value to those in the south land. By planning the fishery, they have also built what many are calling the future home of the next world record bass.
From an environmental standpoint, building more dams makes sense. The San Joaquin River has been a point of contention for environmentalists who are concerned that the river may never be restored to its former glory. No longer does the river make it to Delta, hindering the spawning route for many species of fish. For the San Joaquin to return to former days requires water - lots of water. With the ever-increasing demand on San Joaquin water, it would be impossible to restore the flow of the river without having the capability to store more water. Granted, it's doubtful the river will ever truly be as wonderful as it was 100 years ago, but much more could be done with extra storage capacity.
Pollution continues to be a problem throughout the nation, but as one person said, "The solution to pollution is dilution."
In order to help alleviate some of the problems we face with pollution, diluting the problem with more water can be beneficial. It doesn't solve all the problems, for that we will need many more years of progress and development of cleaner fuels and energy sources. But, we can resolve many of our problems if we had sufficient water capacity.
In the small town of Oakhurst, California, they face water quality problems every summer. The only answer they can possibly turn to is to drill new wells, increase their water supply and dilute down the high levels of uranium found in the water. By mixing high quality water with questionable water, they can reduce toxic levels down to where safety is no longer a concern.
Then of course, there are the benefits to anglers. More water, more lakes, better water quality and pre-planning can develop some of the greatest fisheries in the world. The temperate climate we enjoy in California combined with quality water will enhance fishing throughout the state. Planned correctly, California would become the Mecca for bass anglers worldwide.
In truth, there are very few answers. The massive increase in population demands more water for personal use and for agricultural use. We are quickly taxing our resources. Reducing the number of reservoirs would only enhance the problem. Either more reservoirs need to be built for both water storage and environmental purposes or the population will have to be reduced. If we don't build more dams, the population may reduce itself in a manner that would be cruel and heart wrenching.
More lakes would also reduce the traffic on every body of water, reducing the pollutants introduced into the lake by fuels and human waste. More lakes would allow people to spread out, again, diluting the problem.
And, if that means we get more choices on where to fish, so be it!