Category Archives: Conservation

California’s Water Conservation Regulations and the Law of Unintended Consequences Part 4—Fairness

A lot has happened since Governor Brown issued his executive order on April 1, 2015 directing the State Board to impose mandatory conservation regulations. On water supply matters, a projected El Niño phenomenon failed to materialize in a way that provided significant water supply impacts for Southern California. 2016 was the Golden State’s hottest summer. And according to the Department of Water Resources, the state suffered a “snow drought” during Water Year 2016. Snow is important as a natural reservoir that provides a reliable flow of water as it melts during the spring and summer.

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Water Issues on the Ballot in the 2016 Election

With Election Day upon us, are you getting voter fatigue? If so, you are not alone. In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted between October 28th and November 1st, one question asked, “Has the 2016 campaign made you feel more excited, disgusted, or neither?” An overwhelming 82% of respondents said that the 2016 campaign cycle made them feel more “disgusted,” with only 13% saying the election made them feel more “excited.” Also, the poll is telling because only 3% were undecided by answering “neither.” Regardless of your political affiliation, this has been a long and divisive campaign cycle. We have witnessed much drama at the top of the ticket, from Donald Trump’s “locker room talk” to the multiple FBI reviews of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. These issues as well as the in-fighting within the Republican Party which escalated when House Speaker Paul Ryan told fellow House Republicans in early October that he would spend the last month before the election “focused entirely on protecting our congressional majorities” have distracted the American public from some of the real challenges that our nation faces. Continue reading

Are There Ways to Pay for Water Infrastructure in California and Conserve Water?

While the traditional calendar may still say that there are three more months left in 2016, water year 2016 is now in the books, ending on September 30th. While some parts of California had an about average winter in terms of precipitation (particularly in northern California), other areas did not fare as well. Unfortunately, the Golden State begins the 2017 water year in a sixth straight year of drought. According to the most recent US Drought Monitor, although levels of exceptional drought have dropped from 44.84% at the start of the calendar year to 21.04% currently, 100% of the state still has some form of drought. California is one of only four states in the US with any exceptional drought conditions. (Interestingly, Georgia, Alabama and a small part of Tennessee are the other states currently experiencing exceptional drought.) Continue reading

How Regulatory Hurdles and Uneven Rains are Hampering California’s Drought Recovery

So much for a “drought-busting” El Niño winter in California. While the warming of the equatorial Pacific waters (known as the Oceanic Niño Index or ONI) was one of the strongest on record, California unfortunately did not enjoy the plentiful rains that many expected. Atmospheric conditions steered storms to the Pacific Northwest and away from Southern California, much to the surprise of many meteorologists. As a result, Seattle officially experienced its wettest winter in recorded history. In California, tests conducted last week showed that the state’s overall snowpack was less than average. While the 2016 spring survey was markedly better than one year ago, (Governor Jerry Brown stood on a bare meadow exactly one year ago – it was the first and only time since 1950 that there was no snow at the Phillips Station site on this date) snow at the site totaled 58.4 inches, just 97% of average. Statewide snow totals average just 87% of average for this date. The snow totals in the state decrease the further south you go. While the Northern Sierra has a 97% of average snowpack, the Central Sierra has 88% and the Southern Sierra only 72%. Continue reading