California Water Policy, Part Two

The second installment of this excellent series, from California Globe.

An excerpt.

“Perhaps the biggest example of misguided water policy in California are the escalating restrictions on indoor water consumption. As will be seen, the savings these restrictions amount to are trivial in the context of California’s total water consumption, yet are imposed at tremendous cost both in quality of life and in the required economic sacrifice. Despite alternatives that are objectively more cost-effective, California’s water policy continues to go down the path of rationing indoor water use.

“In 2018 the California Legislature enacted laws to restrict residential water consumption, in the form of Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668. For urban water districts, the laws “establish a standard of 55 gallons per person per day until January 2025, and then to 50 gallons per person per day in 2030.”

“It is fair to point out that some of the more alarmist reactions to these mandates are unfounded. For example, the laws will only measure aggregate use within a water district, which means that how individual users are treated if they exceed the per person indoor water limits is left up to the local utilities. That’s hardly reassuring, but at least it leaves some wiggle room. On the other hand, it creates a powerful disincentive for water agencies to invest in developing an increased, more resilient water supply, because with aggregate maximums limiting how much water the agencies can sell, they’ll think twice before adding capacity. One of the dangerous consequences of this, yet again, is a system that is less equipped to withstand serious disruptions to supply.

“In any case, enforcing these mandates will not have a significant effect on overall water consumption in California, and the cost of implementing them does not make financial sense compared to other ways those funds could be invested.

“To estimate the statewide savings that could be achieved by imposing a 55 gallon per person limit on indoor water use, first consider the current statewide indoor water consumption as estimated by the California Department of Water Resources. This total has been fairly consistent over the past ten years at around 2.5 million acre feet per year. This yields somewhat surprising results. Based on a population of 40 million, as shown in the calculations on the chart, Californians are only using about 60 gallons of water per day, per person, indoors.”

To read the rest, The Abundance Choice, Part Two – California Globe

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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