Category Archives: Conservation

California’s Water Conservation Regulations and the Law of Unintended Consequences Part 3—Environmental Impacts

Save-Our-TreesOn February 2nd, the California State Water Resources Control Board revised and extended the mandatory urban water conservation regulations through October. While the newly-adopted revisions make marginal changes on some issues of fairness, which will be covered in a later post, environmental impacts remain.

The environmental impacts of the mandatory conservation regulations are tied to residential landscaping—or more specifically, the absence or reduction of watering that occurs when residents allow lawns to go brown or replace them altogether.

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California’s Urban Water Management Plan Updates: Planning for Growth in an Uncertain Environment

California received some good preliminary news last week following the initial snow surveys for water year 2016. Unlike last spring’s snow survey at which Governor Jerry Brown stood on a bare field, this year’s first survey showed more promise. The survey found 54.7 inches of snow at the Phillips Station plot, about 16 inches more than the average depth measured there since 1965. The snow had 16.3 inches of water content, 136% of the average for that site. However, while the initial snow survey represents a good start, state water officials warned that we are still facing drought conditions, and the precipitation during the remainder of the winter will determine if the drought will break. Frank Gehrke, chief of the California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program said, “Clearly, this is much better that it was last year at this time, but we haven’t had the full effect of the El Niño yet. If we believe the forecasts, then El Niño is supposed to kick in as we move through the rest of the winter. That will be critical when it comes to looking at reservoir storage.” Continue reading

California’s Water Conservation Regulations and the Law of Unintended Consequences Part 2—Economic Impacts

What are the unintended economic impacts of California’s water conservation regulations?

One must only watch the evening news to surmise that unintended consequences are frequently economic in nature. The prices of oil (and therefore, gasoline), coffee or any other tradeable commodity rises and falls according to policy implementation and political decisions.[1] The water industry recently saw this affect when the Cadiz Inc. stock price plunged following a controversial decision by the Bureau of Land Management declaring that the proposed use of a railroad right-of-way for the Cadiz Water Project “does not derive from or further a railroad purpose.”

When it comes to California’s state-imposed conservation, the unintended economic impacts are those things that affect the pocketbooks of residents and businesses and the viability and vibrancy of communities.

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Shopping for Bottled Water: Do you know where it comes from?

After Thanksgiving wrapped up last week, Americans headed out to a time-honored tradition – “Black Friday” shopping. As unfortunately is usual for this season, some shoppers got a bit rowdy as they fought over flat screen TVs, electronics and other on-sale items. Video footage from stores in Texas and Kentucky showed a few unruly store patrons throwing fists over discounted electronics and items on their holiday wish lists. So what do brawls over Black Friday deals and a water blog have in common? In this post, I will discuss an item that you may buy every week, but is in some areas fought over – bottled water. The impacts of the drought have put an increased focus on the uses for our limited water supplies, and the bottled water industry has not been immune to the discussions over whether bottling water in drought-stricken areas is appropriate. I will discuss the sometimes surprising places where bottled water comes from, provide a few examples of communities where there is debate over the appropriateness of bottling water from municipal sources, and potential policy implications for the industry going forward. Continue reading