Monday November 28, 2022

Finger Lakes Times

Drought, human-caused climate change, invasive species and a “legacy” of environmental issues are permanently altering California’s landscape and placing some communities and ecosystems at increasing risk, a panel of experts told water officials recently.

Invasive species and decades of disruptions from massive land and water developments are partly responsible for a continuous decline in native California species, experts told the California Water Commission on Nov. 16. Also, rural communities, many of whom are lower income and rely on privately owned wells, are disproportionately contending with water contamination and scarcity amid recurring cycles of drought, experts said.

Although droughts in California date back to prehistoric times, the state’s modern-day water issues are the repercussions of decades of decisions, said Jay Lund, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of California, Davis.

“A lot of our environmental problems today are really legacies,” he said. We are witnessing “the dynamics of past impacts and past changes playing themselves out and our inability — both in terms of regulatory policy and economically, and practically in some cases with some invasive species — to manage that playing out of legacy impacts.”

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