A defining quality of California's state government is sluggishness. It's common for audits of state agencies to note that problems identified in previous audits remain unresolved.
Now Californians are witnessing an especially egregious example of this state trait. Forty months after state voters reacted to a brutal drought by lopsidedly approving a $7.5 billion water bond, none of the $2.7 billion the measure set aside for water storage projects has been appropriated by the California Water Commission. And as George Skelton of the Los Angeles Times noted in a recent column, local water agencies are frustrated because they don't have a clear sense of what the commission wants before it is willing to commit to local projects.
Water officials insist this is not another shifty power play by influential environmentalists to block new dams, which they see as an affront to nature and as likely to spur more growth. Instead, delays are blamed on wanting to make sure projects are properly vetted before sending taxpayer dollars out the door.
But the sad twist is that when water storage projects finally do get funded, it might come after a brutal new state drought is already under way. UCLA postdoctoral researcher Daniel Swain reports on his California Weather Blog that the past three months have seen the same ridge of high-pressure air off the coast blocking storms from reaching shore that was seen throughout the 2012-16 drought, which was the worst in the state's history.
Maybe the next drought finally will create a sense of urgency about water storage among what-me-worry state officials. Or maybe not.