If you go back to the City Council agenda of one year ago today you will see a topic quite similar to tonight's being discussed. But none of that worked. Sierra Madre is consuming more water than ever with no real signs of slowing down.
But maybe this evening the City Council will show that they have learned from their past failures and will do something that actually counts. The item we're talking about is the third on tonight's agenda, and it offers serious solutions to our water problems.
3. DISCUSSION – CONSIDERATION OF IMPLEMENTATION OF PHASE III WATER CONSERVATION, AND WATER CONSERVATION PENALTIES
Phase III Water Conservation means a bunch of things, including a building moratorium. Which, unless you are blind and don't care to drink anything, makes perfect sense since there is no water left in this town. All we have these days is that atrociously overpriced piped-in SGVMWD stuff that kills fish and scours the rust off the inside of our antique pipes. Imagine what it could be doing to your pipes.
But there are bigger problems that we need to face. Such as what do we do when the SGVMWD also runs out of water? Who do we turn to then?
Mother Jones Magazine has published a quite sobering report about the drought here in California. They are claiming that it could be among the very worst ever in our recorded history, and they have the facts and figures to back their bold claim up. Here is a portion of that article (link).
California's Drought Could Be the Worst in 500 Years - Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency on Friday, citing a need for conservation efforts and a fingers-crossed message that he "hopes it will rain" soon during what looks like it will be the driest year on record in the history of California.
This is “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago,” Brown said at a news conference on Friday. "We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas."
He asked Californians to reduce their water consumption by 20 percent, adding that his request was "voluntary." Still, he urged residents to do what they can in terms of watching their water consumption. He noted that Angelenos are "doing better" than the rest of the state, but he asked everyone to stop taking such long showers and stop watering their lawns. The immediate forecast shows no rain in sight.
The proclamation is a public relations tool and a way to streamline the rules for water agencies to transfer extra water around the state. And it also gives Brown a little boost when asking for federal funding, which he stated he'd like.
On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated portions of 11 drought-ridden western and central states as primary disaster areas, including the three Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara. That means eligible farmers can qualify for low-interest emergency loans from the department. But that declaration did not include the entire state of California, just portions of it.
Specifically, the order mandates that the Department of Water Resources execute a statewide water conservation campaign to be publicized through the Saveourh20.org, drought conditions should be updated through the California Dept. of Food and Agriculture at cdfa.ca.gov/drought, and local urban supplies are ordered to implement their water shortage contingency plans, among other things.
California’s rivers and reservoirs, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, are below their record lows, according to the state's water managers. Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20 percent of normal average for this time of year.
So I have to ask you this. Is the worst drought in 500 years enough to get waterless Sierra Madre the building moratorium it so desperately - and obviously - needs? If not, exactly when would that threshold be reached? What would trigger it? Armageddon? The Zombie Apocalypse? The Kardashians showing up at Vicious Dogs 2?
Of course, 4/5s of our City Council could very well show us tonight that they only care about the money they get from development impact fees, and even a 1,000 Year Drought wouldn't cause them to stand in the way of stacking and packing this place out. They have large and growing city pensions and benefits to fund.
And that could be symptomatic of the problems we're facing. For this city government right now, only money seems to count. And nothing is too important to sacrifice.