Waste of wa­ter

San Francisco Chronicle - - OPINION -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.