4 Feb 2014

California drought update

First, Governor Brown said*
State agencies, led by the Department of Water Resources, will execute a statewide water conservation campaign to make all Californians aware of the drought and encourage personal actions to reduce water usage. This campaign will be built on the existing Save Our Water campaign and will coordinate with local water agencies. This campaign will call on Californians to reduce their water usage by 20 percent.
That website is devoted to residential water use, so I take this to mean the same as the 20x2020 campaign, i.e., it says nothing about agricultural irrigation, which accounts for 80 percent of the water people use.**

Second, the aggies are in trouble because State Water Project deliveries are now pegged at 0 percent. That has make markets for water attractive for buyers and sellers. One district is already offering water at $600/af, or about 3-20 times as much as farmers are used to paying. One columnist complains of "champagne prices," but that's what you get with markets, supply and demand.

Third (addendum), some water managers are talking criminal penalties for people who violate conservation regulations. Seems like a recipe for abuse of customers by water cops, corruption and wasted resources (remember that San Diego's water cops cost $75k+ each). How about raising prices?

Bottom Line: Markets are responding to the drought, even if the politicians are floundering.

* He also ordered more firefighters to be on duty. The State was successful in hiring more firefighters. Woo hoo. It's always easier to buy than sell.

** It's pathetic predictable that nothing has happened on ag water since I wrote that in 2009.

H/Ts to CM and RM