I say dreams, because the pre-reservoir river landscape of 19th-century California had been characterized both by too much and too little water. Rivers flooded in the spring (Tulare Lake in the southern San Joaquin Valley was for a few months each spring one of the largest fresh-water lakes west of the Great Lakes), only to grow dry by September as the snowmelt was gone and the new storms had not yet arrived. Only the reservoirs that the environmentalists scolded us about could provide the necessary water for a utopian steady year-round river that had never existed.
The result is that there are now zero water deliveries for agriculture from our vanishing reservoir waters. Those who stopped the 15-million-acre feet of additional storage space that might have saved the state now tap the last drops that flow from the dams they opposed in pursuance of theories that remain unproven.
The water disaster is not shared by everyone in quite the same way. In a rare irony, the Hetch Hetchy aqueducts cross the San Joaquin River on their way to the Bay Area. Surely such Bay Area-owned waters might have been diverted to increase the San Joaquin River’s flow to the sea? Could not the Apple executives and the UC professors have showered once a week to save the smelt or to let the poor salmon at least make it to the Tuolumne River?
There is a great sickness in California, home of the greatest number of American billionaires and poor people, land of the highest taxes and about the worst schools and roads in the nation. The illness is a new secular religion far more zealous and intolerant than the pre-Reformation zealotry of the Church. Modern elite liberalism is based on the simple creed that one’s affluence and education, one’s coolness and zip code, should shield him from the consequences of one’s bankrupt thoughts that he inflicts on others. We are a state run by dead souls who square the circle of their own privilege, who seek meaning in rather selfish lives, always at someone else’s expense.
It is that simple — that pernicious.