Waste of water
California’s big urban water districts should be ashamed of themselves. After asking for a good-faith policy change in the state’s water restrictions, they’ve decided that they’re not going to save any water at all.
Gov. Jerry Brown’s office should reconsider issuing mandatory water restrictions for urban water districts. There was an outcry when he set the state’s first mandatory cuts in April 2015. But California was then in the fourth year of a punishing drought, and the state hadn’t gotten anywhere with voluntary restrictions.
So Brown did the right thing, which was to be strict with a limited resource. He ordered urban water districts across the state to cut water use by 25 percent. What’s important to note is that the cities and towns had a successful response to the governor’s order — collectively, these water districts were able to cut back by 24 percent.
Fast forward to this summer. After a winter that brought near-normal rainfall — and many complaints from local water agencies — state officials decided to loosen the taps a little bit. Last month, the State Water Resources Control Board changed its policy to allow urban water agencies to set their own conservation targets.
Nine out of 10 of the biggest urban water suppliers in California reported last week that their savings plan for the rest of 2016 is a big fat zero.
Now, it’s true that the governor’s hard-and-fast cuts could have used a little more flexibility. Different water agencies have different water resources, storage capabilities and conservation strategies, and it’s perfectly reasonable for the targets to reflect this.
But for nine out of 10 of the state’s biggest urban agencies to decide they don’t need to make additional cuts at all is, to be generous, unlikely.
California is in its fifth year of drought, and the status quo can’t hold. The state needs to change its water-wasting ways.