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California's climate change conundrum: Drier dries and wetter wets

California's challenge is to strike better balance for its life blood - water - for agriculture, cities and environment

California has a conundrum - how to deal with the convergence of dated physical infrastructure, higher temperatures, more wildfires, more rain than snow, and the effects of all of that on its life blood: water.

The last couple of years have been a harbinger of what the state faces. Years of record-breaking drought that emptied reservoirs and prompted unprecedented urban water conservation, segued into heavy rain that dumped record inches on northern California in 2016-2017. In early 2017, the main spillway at Lake Oroville, the state's second largest reservoir, collapsed, causing 200,000 people to be evacuated, and the state only narrowly escaped an even greater disaster.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2019, with the headline 'Climate change conundrum'. Print Edition | Subscribe