California’s State Water Project is the backbone of the California economy. The recent declaration of a zero water allocation for 2014 has exposed the California economy’s vulnerability to decades of political gridlock and ineffective water agency action. Last Friday’s announced allocations for the federal Central Valley Project piled on. Unless changes are made promptly to California’s “water culture”, look for California growth to come to a screeching halt. To quote Reverend Wright (admittedly out of context), “California, the chickens have come home to roost.” Continue reading
In the last week, President Barrack Obama and Jerry Brown have rolled out drought relief packages. Pundits have expressed their opinions both for and against these packages, and they have also used these proposals as a venue to opine on everything from the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to Climate Change. Both packages try to address both short-term and long-term issues related to the drought, but will they be successful towards these goals? In this piece I will address the details of both of these measures and how effective I believe they will be towards curbing the drought that California faces. Let’s start first with the President’s proposal. Continue reading
California is in the midst of the third year of drought, and by many indicators 2013 was one of the driest years on record. In Los Angeles for example, 2013 proved to be the driest year in the 136 years that the City has weather records. However, judging by some recent comments from major municipal water providers in Southern California, there seems to be little concern about providing water to our citizens regardless of drought conditions. In this piece, I would like to address these comments and lay out the reasons why I am concerned that our Southern California water districts do not seem concerned in a time of drought to do more to protect long-term water supplies. Continue reading
Last week, the National Security Administration’s often-maligned surveillance programs received headlines for quite an unusual reason: Protesters and civil rights activists in Utah are trying to use a local municipality’s control over water supplies to stop the construction of a new NSA “data mining center”. The NSA plans to open a new data analysis center in Bluffdale, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The data center will need a steady supply of water to cool its massive computers that presumably scan everything from terrorists’ communications to this blog piece about the NSA’s facilities.
According to a December 4th edition of Time Magazine, opponents of the NSA’s surveillance program have formed a coalition called OffNow to urge lawmakers in the state and the local water district to rescind their agreement with the NSA to supply the project with water. Beyond the civil rights controversy that the NSA programs bring up, OffNow takes exception to the fact that this facility will receive below-market rate water prices in order to help spur economic development and construction in the surrounding areas. Why do I bring this story up? Water is an absolutely crucial component to the economic development of any economy, and some recent studies suggest that areas of the country like Salt Lake City may face reduced water supplies in the years to come. As in this situation, state and local governments will have to face the reality of finding a balance between the need for economic development and long-term water conservation. In this piece, I will address the current water supply trends in the State of Utah, and how the state can better plan for its future water needs. Continue reading