Comment on California’s Drought Response

To All,

There are many facets that must be considered if  were are to find solution(s) to our water supply and drought issues.

Of course, bottom line, we all must conserve.  That means every person, business, or industry.

Agriculture is not living up to their responsibility in the area of conservation.  Agriculture, via the California Farm Bureau and other industry groups, make various claims. One argument the make is that they really do not use 80% of the State’s available water supply. Ag claims to use only 40% of all water that falls on the State – with the implication that all the water that falls is available for consumption.  This feeble argument is a desperate attempt to make Ag use appear  less onerous.

With Agricultural users, as with all users of our water supply, there are some that are better at conserving than others.  One can not argue that in the case of Ag use there is room for more conservation and limits on wasteful use.

The article in last weeks Insight (Chronicle – California Water Law Must Change – Quickly by Richard Frank) has some very basic common sense suggestions that could move us all in the correct direction:

Recognize that water is a public resource:  Water is not the private property of any one person or group. Water is the property of the people (as expressed in California State Law).

Improve requirements  for monitoring and reporting water diversions by water users:  At this point the State has no idea of who is diverting and using how much.  To manage we need this information on who is using and how much.

Term Limits for water rights permits:  Currently, permits last forever and do not reflect need or use. This would allow the State to reallocate permits according to recent history use and need.

Make water transfers easier and quicker:  This, again, would allow the State to allocate according need and move water to the points of need – faster.

Give the environment a seat at the water allocation table:  All beneficial uses,  agricultural, industrial, urban, fishery, and aquatic life, must be considered in water allocation.

Increase water rights enforcement:  Currently the State seems paralyzed  in this area. In part, this is due to a lack of staff for enforcement.

To the above list I would add that the State needs to do a better job in the maintenance of water quality.  Water Quality issues, the protection of ground water and surface waters from pollution, can have a great effect on our future water supply.

I suggest that we get to work on resolving these issues – before the problem gets bigger.
Alan Levine – for Coast Action Group