Snapshot of those who conserve and those who guzzle water in California in May 2014
We don't know what to make of this list of water districts that have conserved and those that have increased water usage during this great drought. Probably worse and better examples did not respond to the survey. Nevertheless, with the glaring example of San Francisco's 19-percent increase in water use, the largest reported increases came from Southern California while, with the exception of Glendora in LA County, the nine top districts that reduced water consumption came from Northern California.
Although it is a small sample and doesn't include either the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California or Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, with the exception of the San Francisco PUC, all the respondents represent suburbs. This at least does not contradict the theory that surburban Southern California continues believe that water is created inside pipes for its faucets like some people don't know milk comes from cows. "And they," as is often said around here, "are the smart ones."
But, to be fair, residents of the San Joaquin Valley are more aware of where water comes from because its land is transected by numerous rivers that provide water to the state's vast plumbing system for the transportation of originating in the northeast of the Valley to mingle with water from the Sacramento River and its tributaries which meet in the Delta and is then pumped to the southwest alkali flats for irrigation and over the Tehachapis to urban Southern California.
Nevertheless, the culture of Southern California is built on the twin pillars of popular denial of any water problems on the one hand, and a cohort of very powerful water officials who manage by hookin' and crookin' to deliver the water so that the Southern California economy, built on the unstable economy of FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate), can keep on growing despite the evidence, also growing, that the whole state has grown well beyond the capacity of its natural resources to support it. -- blj
Biggest water saving, guzzling districts
Despite the governor's call for conservation amid a historic drought, California water agencies across the state collectively reported a 1 percent increase in water use in May 2014 compared to the same month over the previous three years.
The State Water Resources Control Board says changes in water use varied drastically across the state, with the south coast region, which includes Los Angeles, reporting an 8 percent increase and the Sacramento River region reporting a 13 percent decrease in use. The figures do not reflect per capita water use, which also varies widely by region, and do not differentiate between business and residential accounts.
The water board defines large suppliers as those serving more than 40,000 customers.
These large suppliers reported the biggest increases in May water use among the 276 respondents to a state survey:
— City of Santa Ana (Orange County), 64 percent.
— City of San Juan Capistrano (Orange County), 37 percent.
— City of Garden Grove (Orange County), 32 percent.
— Rancho California Water District (Riverside County), 21 percent.
— El Toro Water District (Orange County), 20 percent.
— San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, 19 percent.
— Vallecitos Water District (north of San Diego), 18 percent.
— American Water Company Los Angeles District (Los Angeles County), 17 percent.
— Water Service Company Palos Verdes (Los Angeles County), 17 percent.
— City of Pasadena (Los Angeles County), 15 percent.
These large suppliers reported the biggest decreases in May water use:
— City of Folsom (Sacramento County), 31 percent.
— City of Glendora (Los Angeles County), 26 percent.
— City of Gilroy (Santa Clara County), 25 percent.
— American Water Company Sacramento District (Sacramento County), 24 percent.
— City of Pleasanton (Alameda County), 23 percent.
— City of Ceres (Stanislaus County), 22 percent.
— City of Santa Rosa (Sonoma County), 22 percent.
— Sacramento Suburban Water District (Sacramento County), 21 percent.
— American Water Company Monterey District (Monterey County), 20 percent.
— City of Roseville (Placer County), 20 percent.
Los Angeles Times
How much water does California have left?
By JAY FAMIGLIETTI
Neither sewage recycling nor desalination nor some miracle technology will save us from drought
It is time for mandatory water restrictions, with enforcement and fines for violations
Southern California water managers are doing such a great job that you would hardly know we are in the midst of the worst drought since record-keeping began in the late 1800s.
Our lush, well-watered landscapes look as healthy and inviting as ever. Our fountains continue to shoot water in great arcs. Our freshly washed cars remain shiny and clean. On the surface, that's amazing. Kudos to our regional and local water districts for an incredible job in "drought-proofing" Southern California.
We have only enough water in storage to get through the next 12 to 18 months, and that's it.-
However, excellence in water management has a real downside: a false sense of security. It is exceedingly difficult to convey the urgency of the situation when most everything around us is green.
The harsh reality is that everything here was fine. We used to have a lot of water in California, but now we don't. Without a few successive winters of above-average precipitation, we have only enough water in storage to get through the next 12 to 18 months, and that's it. Beyond that, many of our state and local water managers have thrown up their hands because they just don't know where our water will come from.
That is because drought-proofing is a misnomer. There is no proof against drought when there is no snowmelt to feed the rivers that normally refill our reservoirs, or when groundwater — our buffer against dwindling surface water supplies — continues to disappear with overpumping.
As hopes for a boost to next winter's rains fade with recent forecasts for a weaker El Niño event than first reported, 2014 is on track to become California's warmest year, and among its driest, on record.
It is time for Southern Californians to wake up and smell the dusty, dry air that has turned the rest of the Golden State brown. We are in big trouble too; we just can't see it through the overwatered foliage.
There are three important steps that our region can take to have an immediate effect on sustaining our water supply beyond just 12 to 18 months.
The first is awareness of our water supply situation. Our water has three main sources: snowmelt from the Sierra Nevada, local groundwater and imported water from the Colorado River basin.
Unfortunately, all three of these sources are drying up. The amount of available freshwater from each has declined significantly during the drought. Even worse, best available forecasts indicate that the declines will continue for decades.
Second, it is time, right now, for mandatory water restrictions, with enforcement and fines for violations. If we must be forced to immediately cut back on water use, then so be it.
Voluntary measures such as Gov. Jerry Brown's emergency request to reduce water use by 20% are clearly not working. Coastal communities in Southern California managed to reduce water use by only 5% between January and May. Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego all recorded increases of between 1% to 4%.
Third, we must press for better management of the state's groundwater supply. As the major source of irrigation water in California, and the critical reserve for all during drought, groundwater accounts for roughly 65% of the statewide water supply. Consequently, most of our aquifers are being rapidly depleted, with little regard for meeting future needs. These include the southern half of the vast Central Valley aquifer system, aquifers in Paso Robles, the Coachella Valley, the Imperial Valley and more.
The governor is intent on sustaining groundwater reserves for generations to come. A draft document proposing new legislation that will finally bring groundwater resources under the state water management umbrella is on the governor's website. It includes provisions to implement monitoring and management plans at the local level. Passage of some form of this legislation — and soon — is absolutely essential to ensure a sustainable water future for California.
This is a real emergency that requires a real emergency response. If Southern California does not step up and conserve its water, and if the drought continues on its epic course, there is nothing more that our water managers can do for us. Water availability in Southern California would be drastically reduced. With those reductions, we should expect skyrocketing water, food and energy prices, as well as the demise of agriculture.
We should not expect to be saved by sewage recycling, or desalination, or some miracle technology. As fundamental as they are to managing the region's water supply, the scope of this drought and our demand for water far outstrip what current capabilities can provide.
Imagine a disaster movie in which 22 million people are told that they have only 12 to 18 months of water left. Unless Southern Californians pull together, we will be making that movie.