A guest post by Jeffrey A. Michael*
I have been reading and listening to California’s agriculture industry a lot lately. Reliable is their favorite word. They need a reliable water supply. They need a reliable labor supply. And they want the government to adopt policies to ensure reliability.
In most situations, reliability problems are solved by paying more, but the farmers do not support higher prices/wages. To the agricultural industry, reliable seems to mean cheap and abundant.
It works well politically. The public is more supportive of “reliable” than “cheap.” Reliability is now promoted as the desirable goal of water policy. The first recommendation of the Delta Vision Report is “The Delta ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California are the primary, co-equal goals...”
I’m afraid this goal will only perpetuate unrealistic expectations of Delta water supply without a clear definition of reliable. In recommendation 10, Delta Vision restates it as “the co-equal goals of ecosystem revitalization and adequate water supply for California.”
So, reliable means adequate? My used car is not reliable, but it is adequate.
Bottom Line: If you want something to be reliable, you have to pay for it. Raise prices now! We may find our "unreliable" supply is adequate after all
* Director (Business Forecasting Center) and Associate Professor (Eberhardt School of Business), University of the Pacific