21 January 2014

California's Official Drought

It's no real surprise, but it's also a little sad to hear all the usual hang-wringing without much of a discussion of how California needs to change its water management to reflect reality.

I commented on KCBS here (5 min MP3). I suggested that higher prices would be better than restrictions on certain uses (especially if politicians get to send people checks to rebate the excess revenue).[1] I also suggested that farmers need to stop overdrafting groundwater,[2] but it seems that the declaration -- which suspends environmental regulations on water use/transfers[3] -- may reward farmers' overdrafting as well as helping them do greater environmental harm by diverting low flows.

Bottom Line: Nobody ever says the Sahara is in drought.

  1. "Households that can compare their water use to neighborhood averages reduce average residential water use by 5 percent." That's great psychology but what about raising prices so people cut down on the 50 percent of their use that goes to outdoor irrigation?
  2. Fresno county has seen an 80 percent increase (hardly regulated) in well drilling. It's a race to the bottom![4]
  3. I've been in favor of streamlined regulations for "no-brainer" transfers for years, but those rules should be implemented as part of a deliberate process, not in the haste that can lead to mistakes.
  4. Westlands, which has no shortage of shameless, illogical irony, has this to say:
    This crisis demonstrates the need for workable solutions that address the immediate situation and long-term solution that will prevent these reoccurring droughts that disrupt our economy and harm our agriculture industry. We are seeing the failures of this generation to wisely manage our precious water resources and the consequences of these failures in the most painful of ways. Westlands remains committed to seek solutions by continuing to meet with public officials at all levels to assess what actions can be taken to provide immediate relief to mitigate the impacts of this disaster
    I'd suggest that the Bureau stop delivering water to Westlands, as their service contracts no doubt allow in cases of emergency. End of water, end of Westlands, and an end to the failure of the generation that brought Westlands into existence.
H/Ts to RM and DV

1 comment:

  1. Excellent comments.
    The push for Westlands and Kern Water District to have a "co-equal goals" program in the California Delta by thrusting 140,000 acres of Eminent Domain at Delta farmers may backfire if this common sense concept takes hold.


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