It might be the regulatory version of “Are we there yet?”
Even as local water officials are telling customers to use less water during California’s worst drought in more than 1,000 years, they are also asking state regulators when they can stop telling people to save so much water.
The concerns are spelled out in a Sept. 18 letter to members of the State Water Resources Control Board that was signed by 10 local water agencies, including the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Water Authority.
The current emergency restrictions were imposed at the behest of Gov. Jerry Brown. He called for urban water users to reduce their demand by an average of 25 percent. The fight now is over what happens after those regulations expire in February.
Local water agencies are keen to know if Californians can quit saving so much water if “more normal” rainfall and snowfall return. The problem is that rain and snow may become more erratic because of climate change. In other words, the drastic conditions might be more normal than anomaly.
“While the evidence strongly suggests changing climate conditions, that shouldn’t mean current statewide emergency conditions are the new normal by which policy is set,” said Mike Lee, a spokesman for the County Water Authority.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Is it the worst drought in more than 1000 years? That is an interesting statement. Do you realize that is 10 centuries? That is the first time I have heard that statement about the current situation.
Is this an editorial or a news article? The author needs to retract the opening statement. There isn't enough recorded rainfall history to know whether this is the worst drought in more than 1000 years. Also the phrase, "More than 1000 years" isn't even definitive. That phrasing has no meaning.
Australia installed ten desalination plants of which eight have been shut down and the two remaining are slated to be shut down. Their view "Big waste of money that is not cost effective. Follow the money you will find the corruption!
@Kathy S Not for this story, however, here is a story we did in June about that very project: http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/topics/science-environment/toilet-to-tap-is-coming-sooner-than-you-think/
There are no surprises to those watching the reactions of the SDCWA and local water district boards. Their agendas are attached at the hip to growth. Water agencies remain the single largest growth-inducing factor in San Diego, surpassing even SDG&E. Has any development ever experienced a refusal for a "will service" letter? Not in my experience or research.
There's an easy, market-based solution: when water levels fall, raise the price of water, and when water levels rise, lower the price of water. Because people use less water when it's expensive and more when it's cheap, this would stabilize water levels in the same way that adjusting interest rates stabilizes the economy.
I'm not sure that approach would work given the disparity of wealth in San Diego. It seems like the biggest water uses with big lawns and big budgets may be immune to price increases unless they are quite extreme. And those who use little water and have little budgets would not be able to afford even a small price increase.
@SherryS If the price of the first tier (maybe the first two tiers) remained the same, then those who use little water would not be affected.
Make sure everyone opposes the Proposed rate increase you just received in the mail. It says "Notice for Public Hearing for Proposed Water Rate Increases". On the back of that booklet, there's a form to mail in. Let your voice be heard!
The headline fails to differentiate between San Diego water agencies and San Diego's water customers. A better headline might have been "San Diego water agencies ask state to let them stop helping customers use water more efficiently". Truth is that local water customers are far more committed to water conservation than local water districts and agencies, who's boards and staff don't like water conservation because it cuts into their water sales and revenue. While local water agencies are currently talking about ways customers can save water, they're not walking the walk in the form of offering customers incentives to save water.
Having raised everyone's water rates, blaming it on water conservation, will the local water agencies reduce their water rates if the state says they can stop promoting conservation? I seriously doubt it. They will keep the money and stop urging customers to become more efficient.
This drought wouldn't be so bad if the state stopped pumping 800k acre feet of fresh water from reservoirs into the ocean every year in an effort to lower water temperature for fish. The city of los angeles uses less than 600k acre feet per year and our billion dollar desalination plant will only produce 60k acre feet per year.
@Sean M The problem with San Diego is there is no way to save millions of gallons of rain water. It doesn't rain much, but when it does, it all goes into the ocean. San Diego City officials can do a much better job. Maybe the Mayor should focus less on re election and the Chargers stadium and actually do some real work.
Fleecing the tax payers has become common place.
The 800k acre feet I am referring to was captured in reservoirs and literally pumped from reservoirs across the state into the ocean and is not related to runoff. I believe that the state has recently begun to conflate runoff numbers with reservoir releases.http://m.westernfarmpress.com/blog/californians-lose-800000-acre-feet-water-305-minnows
@Sean M Did you even read the article you cited? The writer was making the point that 800k acre feet of water was left in the Delta and not allowed to be pumped to farmers in the Central Valley due to the protections afforded the endangered Delta Smelt. There was no "pumping 800k acre feet of fresh water from reservoirs into the ocean every year in an effort to lower water temperature for fish." And none of that really has much to do with this article you're commenting about.
Without heightened public and political awareness of impending periodic/episodic drought, we'll continue to develop communities in water-wasting ways: sprawl housing, golf courses, irresponsible irrigation practices, etc. Making wise water use a long term proposition saves energy, facilitates wildlife, and in the end is good for our economy. We just have to stop wasting money on long term bond financed boondoggles like purple pipe and desalination.
@Sean M Every story has 2 sides. Let's let the readers read one more article and make up their own minds on how things worked with the delta smelt.
About 800k acre feet of water that could have been used for farming and residential use keeps getting diverted to the ocean every year. The need for conservation would not be so acute if the water had been retained. I would consider this diversion more wasteful than all the other uses you mentioned, especially since the project has not been successful, the last survey found only one fish. A more effective way to maintaintain the smelt population is in large aquariums, then reintroduce them to the wild when environmental conditions improve.
I believe the merits of the fresh water diversion to the ocean should be judged by their results, not the intent. http://www.mercurynews.com/drought/ci_27918392/california-drought-delta-smelt-survey-tallies-one-fish
@Sean M We give them far less water than they need, and yet we expect them to prosper. Or to put it in corporate-speak, "the beatings will continue until morale improves!"
@Mike @Sean M The article you cite say it's not just the smelt but lots of species declining. From the article " not just Delta smelt, but
also longfin smelt, Sacramento splittail, Sacramento perch, river
lamprey, green sturgeon, Central Valley steelhead trout and spring and
winter runs of chinook salmon. It's not just about saving a single
species, they say, but about saving a precious ecosystem." Do you want them all to go away so someone in another state can eat CA meat, vegetables, nuts & fruit? Or keep golf courses, lawns, etc. green? Because basically, you're saying sacrifice the whole ecosystem, which is already getting far too little water, for purposes like those.