In discussions of the current drought and water conservation, no one seems to be addressing what happens next year if this winter is as dry as the last.

While it has been customary for this area to have five to six dry years followed by two to three wet years, much of the inter-mountain west has been in an extended dry weather pattern. Note that Lake Mead is down by more than 100 feet, and a good part of the Colorado River basin has been drying out for years. The unusually persistant high-pressure system that drove last winter's Pacific coast dry year -- and the polar vortex over the eastern two-thirds of the country -- has been back this month, bringing us weather that is hotter and drier than normal. Many reservoirs are very low or near empty, and water in the Sierra snowpack is at something like 12 percent of normal. Even if wet years return, it's obvious the political consensus in Northern California wet areas has hardened against continuing unlimited water flows to the Central Valley and Southern California.

Why isn't there more recognition of the need to let lawns go brown, discontinue backyard swimming pools or consider something more permanent -- like eliminating grass lawns and/or backyard pools? And could it not be time for "Big Ag" to face up to the need to focus on crops that could be temporarily abandoned in dry years but planted again in wet years? Perhaps it's time for all of us to have one big, fat "Duh" moment?

David Matthews