California’s drought: this is a test

California’s remarkable, looming drought conditions are a test, and via OtPR we’re seeing some clues as to who will pass:

Southern California prepared for this and has a sufficient buffer that it doesn’t need to ration this year.

And how did Southern California prepare? In part by being audacious enough and rich enough, but also clever enough, to build three different rivers from three different places. Spreading ecological risk, to borrow (I hope correctly?) from William Abruzzi’s work on the early Mormon settlements of the Little Colorado River Basin and the lessons they learned from the native communities that went before them. While California itself wilts, urbanized Southern California can count on a full supply from the Colorado River this year. Different basin, different plumbing, different risk.

This has one of the key characteristics of a wicked problem. The creation of a resilient water supply in a modern society has no clear stopping point. Our desires and needs keep changing, and our supply sources keep changing. But it will be useful this year, amid the suffering, to look around and see whose planning fell short, and whose planning paid off.