San Francisco

As High Temperatures Hit the Bay Area, Experts Talk Drought in SF

High temperatures in the Bay Area have had many people skipping work and soaking up the sun. They also have experts talking about the possibility of another drought.

Those experts were in San Francisco on Wednesday night for a seminar that discussed the consequences of a dry winter: an inevitable drought. During the SF Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association event, experts discussed ways to deal with another dry spell.

Ideas included more reservoirs, desalination and drinking processed sewer water.

"We are working with four different entities to look at potable water reuse of waste water," said Steve Ritchie of the SF Public Utilities Commission. "That’s not gonna happen tomorrow, but we will be thinking about that in the future as droughts get deeper."

For some, the thought of drinking treated sewage water is hard to swallow.

"That’s gross," said Julie Delosreyes. "I mean, there is nothing you could add to the water to make me feel better about drinking sewer water."

The Bay Area gets about half its water from the snowpack in the Sierra. As the climate warms, experts say it will have to change from a snow-based to a rain-based system.

"So more precipitation is falling as rain not as snow, and that leads to quicker runoffs," water expert Adrian Covert said. "We don’t have the infrastructure to capture the runoff, so we’re losing water."

Meanwhile, the warm temperatures Wednesday had many visiting Santa Cruz Beach, where they embraced the unusual February weather.

"We are swimming," said Sarah Young. "The water is great, it’s very invigorating."

The 76-degree weather was not only enjoyable for the public but refreshing for businesses too. People flocked to the Santa Cruz Wharf for fresh seafood and kayak rentals, which would usually be closed in February.

"We had a dozen people today," said owner of Venture Quest Kayaking, Dave Johnston. "Last weekend we had our busiest February weekend ever, 75 people."

Not only are Bay Area residents enjoying the high temperatures, New Yorker Lorraine Olsen says she’s happy to be in warm weather.

"It’s beautiful," Olsen said. "It’s so cold in New York right now, I’m happy to be back here."

Temperatures are set to remain in the 70s for the rest of the week.

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