The approaching storm

We haven’t been hearing much lately about the High-speed rail scheme that gives us confidence that the project will ever be finished, or if it ever is finished that we will be able to pay for it.

That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be nice to have a high-speed train at our disposal to run us over to the coast, or down to LA, but it looks like those places will be almost unreachable because of the engineering problems that have yet to be solved.

It looks like the best we will be able to do high-speed-rail-wise is run back and forth between Sacramento and Bakersfield at maybe 175 miles an hour or less.

We have been promised a quick stop in Madera, and if that promise is kept we might see some benefit from it.

For example, people who work for the government in Sacramento would be able to have their choice of affordable housing almost anywhere up and down the San Joaquin Valley.

There’s no more affordable housing in San Francisco, we are told, and in and around Sacramento it’s pretty much the same thing. The traffic is so terrible at rush hour in our capital city that people who live in the suburbs have to spend an hour or two driving to work, and the same amount of time driving back home. If they hopped the high-speed train, they could get out of Sacramento fast, and in 45 minutes or so be in Madera, if Madera happened to be where they wanted to live.

If that happened, Madera and other Valley cities probably would slow down on the growing of trees and start growing houses where commuters could live.

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That ugly “D” word is being heard again: “Drought!”

Madera Irrigation District is facing one of its most critically dry years since the district’s inception in 1920, according to the district’s Midstream Monitor newsletter for February.

“As most people are aware, this year is likely to be the driest on record and, to compound the issue, has followed two relatively dry water years. The lack of rainfall and snowpack affects not only MID’s water users’ surface supplies but groundwater supplies also as MID is a conjunctive use District ...

“The United States Bureau of Reclamation recently announced that the San Joaquin River Exchange Contractors (Exchange Contractors) will likely receive a 40 percent allocation this year. In the history of the Central Valley Project this has never happened, and will have a ripple effect on Friant supplies. If some significant storm events don’t hit the state soon a call from the USBR will be made on Friant supplies to satisfy the Exchange Contractors.”

• • •

Let’s see ... If only one-third of the $10-plus billion being used now on the high-speed rail project had been used to build the Temperance Flat Dam, we would not be in a water predicament. We would be able to store wet-year water.

That would be a benefit to the state as a whole.

The bullet train, on the other hand, is unlikely to confer any immediate benefits for more than a decade at least.

Let’s hope the storm being predicted for the rest of this week is a good one.