Southern California has a problem. Its base water supply is at risk due to aging infrastructure and declining conditions in the Delta that make it increasingly difficult to convey water through the Delta. A Saturday outing to Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, California led to an unexpected opportunity to hear why the Southern California Water Committee (“SWSC”) sees California WaterFix as the solution.
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
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. 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.
In the midst of California’s fourth year of drought, cities and water districts are starting to get tougher on both individual water wasters and cities that are not reaching state-mandated water reduction targets. In late October, the East Bay Municipal Utilities District outside of San Francisco released the names and data of the top-100 water wasters in the District. The list includes venture capitalists, business executives and even former and current baseball and basketball stars. The top water waster identified was Chevron executive George Kirkland, who used an average of 12,579 gallons per day. Extrapolating that water usage to a monthly basis (assuming 30 days in a month), Kirkland was on pace to use more than one acre-foot per month, more than an average California household uses in an entire year! Continue reading