Monday, April 20, 2015

Bruce Inman's Letter to Jessica Bean of the State Water Resources Control Board

Bruce and his famous rusty pipe
There was an article in the Los Angeles Times recently that contained a hidden pearl for the concerned water users of Sierra Madre. The article itself dealt with the draconian financial penalties for communities not reducing their water usage by as much as 35%. News that we are all quite familiar with by now.

Here is how the LAT explained it (link):

Jerry Brown faces fight over mandatory water cuts Representatives of urban water suppliers and advocacy groups from across the state have criticized a plan from state water regulators that would force some to cut water consumption by as much as 35% over the next year. In more than 200 letters to the State Water Resources Control Board released Wednesday, some agencies urged state officials to reconsider how they would implement the mandatory  statewide water-use cut that Gov. Jerry Brown ordered this month.

Many communities called on the board to consider its previous water conservation efforts when setting a reduction target. Other cities said their population data was skewed by an influx of seasonal residents. A few questioned whether their reduction targets were fair, even amid a persistent drought.

The city of Beverly Hills needs to cut water usage by 35% under the state board’s current plan. In his letter to officials, Beverly Hills interim City Manager Mahdi Aluzri said meeting that target would take time, adding that the board “should delay any formal enforcement actions until water suppliers have been given an opportunity to develop and fully implement new conservation measures.”

“The city recognizes that further conservation measures will be required to achieve the Governor’s conservation mandate,” Aluzri wrote. "However, the city is concerned that achieving a 35% conservation standard in such a short time may ultimately be infeasible.”

While it certainly is interesting to find Sierra Madre lumped in with the likes of Beverly Hills in Jerry Brown's 35% Water Use Sinners Club, we need to know more. And what you might not have known, and I certainly did not, is that 200 letters were written to the State Water Resources Control Board by highly aggrieved local government agencies. A tremendous outpouring of creativity it was, too.

And last week the water folks in Sacramento made all these letters public, and then linked them on their website. The LA Times pointed us to that site, and you can view all 200 of these letters by clicking here.

The letter of most interest to folks living in the Foothill Village is the one Bruce Inman wrote in defense of the water use habits of Sierra Madre. Bruce's plea here being that the water use reductions Sierra Madreans have already made should be rolled into that 35% number. His point being that some conservation had already taken place, and to drop an additional 35% on top of that would be terribly unfair.

Which shows that Bruce Inman has been listening to what people in town have been telling him.

Just below is a portion of that letter. It is a lengthy missive, so if you wish to read all of it you can do so by clicking on the link at the end of this article. I found it to be a good look at the strategy City Hall has put together in hopes of escaping Jerry Brown's troubling and arbitrary 35% solution.

A lot of it makes good sense as well. I suspect Teresa Highsmith was also involved in creating this letter, and it certainly does seem like her writing style at times. But that is just a guess.

Hopefully Bruce's missive, plus those other 199 letters, will change things up a little.


To read the rest of Bruce's letter, click here.

Update: According to KPCC this morning (link) Sierra Madre's water use reduction percentage has been lowered from 35% to 32%. Talk about throwing us a small bone. Full article here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

56 comments:

  1. Odds that Sacramento will listen? 1 in 5 maybe? 80% of the state's water goes to agriculture. There are some heavy hitting multi-billion dollar corporations that own much of central California. That is who has Jerry's ear.

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    1. You want to pay 5X the price for produce?

      Yeah, cut the water to agriculture. Me, I don't think so.

      CA can save a boatload of aqua by not releasing water into the ocean to save the Delta smelt ( a sardine) and 6 Steelhead trout.

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    2. Hmm. An extra $2 for cabbage or having to take a bath in a thimble full of water. I am going to have to think about that one.

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    3. Take a bath or go hungry? Tough decision?

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    4. I take it you're opting for the fat and smelly option.

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    5. Produce is what food eats.

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    6. What if we cut agriculture from 80% of total water usage to 60%? Would that be OK, 7:35?

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    7. Still going to quadruple your food prices. You tell me, Einstein.

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    8. You seem upset. Here, have an almond.

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    9. The issue of "saving the smelt" remains an issue of destroying a watershed elsewhere to have water here, where none is generated. It's a "so long as I get mine" solution.

      In order for the city to get water without destroying our long term water supply, and keeping California the beautiful state that it is, we need to reduce agricultural water use to something that is sustainable, and put a freeze on any new water growth for urban centers.

      For the complexity that is the Delta smelt: http://nodeltagates.com/

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    10. 9:19 has been outed as one of the senior figures in the "Save the Cabbage" movement.

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    11. Enjoy your smelt!

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  2. Sierra Madre should not be penalized for getting out in front of this issue by enacting water conservation measures before Jerry Brown called for his 35% reduction. The baseline from which to reduce the 35% should start from say, 5 years ago, or some such date that occurs before Sierra Madre, and I'm sure other cities, began to take action to conserve water. That would be the only fair way to do it. Cities can only reduce water use by so much. If they have already tightened their belts, there just may not be that much further they can go.

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  3. Just another big government kill the middle class moment for Sacramento. They have campaign donors to take care of, you know.

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    1. "The Golden Rule", Those who have the gold make the rules.

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    2. In California the gold rules. And the state gets most of it.

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  4. We also need to look at development and housing projects. That's the 1000 lb elephant in the room. I don't care how much water cities are able to save, if you continue to allow big projects to keep coming on line like the 12,000 unit Tejon Ranch project, it will simply wash out any saving of water by residents. For any geographic area, there are a finite number of resources available. Southern California is a desert that was made into an oasis by artificial and perhaps unsustainable means. Perhaps, just perhaps, we have reached our capacity for growth. Perhaps growth should occur only in areas where the capacity of resources like water have not yet been reached. It sure seems like it may have been reached here iin California.

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    1. Development is another Sacramento sacred cow.

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    2. Assuming the Sierra Madre real estate market is still hot, maybe its time to sell out and move to where the water is?

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    3. Once the water is gone home values will crash. Get ready for the great reverse dust bowl migration.

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    4. Agreed.
      Tattler already predicted this a month ago.
      The water restrictions being placed on commercial users is awful. So this will be the final straw. Already groaning under the weight of high wages/rents, intrusive rules & regulations - businesses will move to where the water is better managed.The loss of business will quickly drag down both commercial and residential real estate. We know where that downward spiral leads.
      With a declining tax base (property tax & sales tax mainly) Cities like Sierra Madre where 70% + of their budget is fixed expenses for wages and benefits will go BK. What other realistic scenario is there? Glad I am a renter!

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    5. It's not just here, it's global. Sao Paulo has a drastic shortage, even Kathmandu - the settled population has far outgrown the diminishing fresh water supplies. In Nepal, 4 million people now live in the Kathmandu valley which has a water capacity of maybe 1 million. No snowpacks and glaciers are melting. Same here in California, Washington and Oregon.

      http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/09/kathmandu-nepal-city-glaciers-water-crisis

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    6. The Guardian is an unfortunate choice of a reference. It is extreme left wing even by English standards. Their general thesis may be correct but the taint of bias is to strong to have much credibility.
      A more direct and local source is The Sacramento/Fresno Bee . If you read them, they covered all these issues a year ago and with great authority because it was all local news.

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  5. 7:22 - what a bad solution- ruin the ecosystem even further so that people can preserve their wasteful lifestyle.

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    1. OK, turn off your water and donate it to 6 steelhead trout. That way you can feel good about yourself. You do get how bad this water shortage is, dude?

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    2. Forced to choose between you and a fish, I'd find the trout to be more interesting company.

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    3. The fifth largest river in the United States is the 3.5 million acre feet of water that California dumps into the ocean after using it once. We can reclaim 1.5 million acre feet by 2020 with a serious look at water reclamation. It's cheaper then reservoirs, desal, or the preferred idea of destroying habitat to eke out a few more unsustainable years.

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    4. Ok, 9:22, hold that fishy thought as you die of dehydration. But you can save you were an enviromentalist on your tombstone.

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    5. Good Lord. Now he's making death threats.

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    6. You really hate facts, don't ya. Next are you going to say there's plenty of water?

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    7. 9:20 - nice try.

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    8. 10:21 - I don't think anyone here hates facts. What they do seem to have a problem with is your kinda wacky interpretation of them.

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    9. You can't handle the truth.

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  6. I don't care how much a person has reduced their water already. If you see a green lawn then they can reduce more. When the water is gone we are all out of the very life source that the body needs to live. And, how abut those of us who have gardens to eat from and have fruit trees that we eat from. We are not going to restrict water to the very plants we have gone to for food over the years, grass and decorative scrubs, gone, food source stays. The state can not deny us food or fine us because we grow some of our own food. Store bought food takes a lot more water to deliver than when you grow your own.

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  7. It seems Mr. Inman ,the astute plagiarist that he is has taken a leaf from the Allen's book ? He needed lengthy tutoring on the concept that many Sierra Madreans had already taken drastic water economy measures and therefore should not be subject to new cuts. They dutifully submitted their forms to claim relief.He just ignored them for 6 months ! Hiding under the skirts of the Council as an excuse for inaction.Amazing, one rebuke from of all people Goss and the claims suddenly get processed. Ya know what goes around ,comes around. If the City had been more consultative and less dictatorial & obstructionist on this ,we may have had even better compliance with water conservation.

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  8. Leaving Sierra Madre for points east and south requires a drive through that verdant land of overbuilding/overwatering--Arcadia--and there is only one indicator of water cutback on lawns: a house to be torn down, and soon, for a new mansion! No wonder we are resentful, even of Mr. Inman's letter to the State Water Board (read it in its entirety, please) as we are agonizing over how to live a healthful life and not loose every tree on our property with a bare allotment of water.

    What pushed us into th 35% reduction in the first place? Who in our own town is a water glutton? Some (many?) out there were not bothering to conserve and the city was definately slow in getting their attention.

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    1. We just have big yards. That means we use more water than a person that lives in an apartment. The other big yard places use a lot more water than us. The issue is, we may have to straight up kill our yards to meet conservation goals, and people haven't been willing to go that far. We all hoped it would rain more this winter.

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    2. 9:50, our yard is dead and has been for a while. Where have you been?

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    3. You'll either have to kill your yard or get heavily fined by the city. The city will then be fined $10,000 a day if our overall water usage doesn't drop by over 30%. Time to kiss the daffodils goodbye. It is a new world now.

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  9. Ugh, that new updated water conservation target is horrendous. Cities that reduced by 47% asked to reduce 32% more, while cities that increased 10% are asked to reduce by 10%? If you increased use, you should have that added back to the full total plus 5%. If you reduced, that should go as a credit against your total. Ridiculous.

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    1. I am not sure the state cares all that much. They hacked out these numbers with a blunt ax, not a scalpel.

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    2. Enjoy your services! Don't forget to raise the UUT.

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  10. There have been rumblings in the development community that this drought will stop development, it's not like they don't recognize the issue. Construction itself is a big consumer of the urban water allotment, not just the ongoing water consumption after development of greenfields (as opposed to urban infill and brownsfields - industrial land that can be recycled). The development formula by cities and counties should be flipped so that developing vacant land is horrendously expensive, and urban infill and industrial land recycling should be "dirt cheap". Only existing water meters should be allowed. No extensions of existing infrastructure, they can't even maintain what they've got.

    And I can tell you that the water industry is VERY concerned about outmigration due to the lack of water supplies. Yes, we all know what that would do to the tax base. But it's here and we have to deal with it. There are ways to shift the existing infrastructure as LA and the County go into the overdue remediation of breaking water supply lines and implement ways of capturing stormwater and implementing more water recycling systems. It's a culture of scarcity which has to be acknowledged and used. Natural processes don't waste anything, and that should be the human model.

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  11. All of you wont be joking so much when your worried about where your next glass of water is coming from. This is serious and raising the UUT isn't going to get us more water but it will raise more money for the city to cover their past mistakes.

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    1. Like spending too much money? The UUT defeats in 2012 and 2014 are the way to keep the spending down.

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    2. Johnny the Mayor wants to put the UUT back on the ballot for a third time. Why can't the city live on the 6% UUT the voters approved twice?

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    3. Can't have Platinum Pensions without jacking up your taxes. You don't want City Employees to have to get by on the same measly retirements as the rest of us, do you?

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    4. 1:28, for one thing, costs have gone up since the original 6% was put into place. You would be pretty unhappy if your wages stayed the same for 5-6 years, and then you lost two percent each year after that. I think if the city council had not been so greedy the last time around, people would have voted for a flat 8% without a sunset clause and without possibility of a raise without another vote. And, don't get me started on the "golden benefits" argument. There are only a handful who get those great benefits and the City has a lot more employees who are making much less.

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    5. Oh, please get started on the "golden benefits" argument. I'll go get some popcorn.

      For extra credit, please get me a list of the major private sector employers who offer a defined benefit (X% per year of salary) with a COLA , AND a medical plan.

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  12. Happy 420!

    But remember that illegal MJ farming is destroying forests and drying up local streams
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/20/420-weed-day-marijuana-april-holiday_n_3122359.html

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  13. As I remember there was a hue and cry when someone suggested that E. Waldo Ward get a break on their water allotment, saying they should pay like the rest of us. Well, if they were classified agricultural/industrial their allotment would be separated from the residential allotment for Sierra Madre. Ward's doesn't grow much anymore, but they sure must use a hefty amount of water in the processing, and canning of their products.

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  14. unless they say they are building like 4 or 5 big desalination plants, this whole thing stinks... It just gets worse and worse. Why in Israel and Saudi Arabia are they allowed to have huge desal plants http://www.harlemlook.net/2015/04/why-in-israel-but-not-california.html but not in California?

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  15. Time to move to greener pastures.

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  16. Great point Howard.There is lots Govt could/should have done. But they didn't.
    In Saudi they have virtually free electricity from the oil/gas fields to supply the huge power requirements of desal. Desal works best from brackish ,not seawater. We have plenty of both but the environmental rules for a Desal Plant are very obstructive and expensive (Carlsbad is the most recent example).Poseidon had to meet all sorts of enviro extortion.
    We could build more reservoirs like Ah Pah but the enviro extremists blocked it.
    The mountains North of use have ample sites for reservoirs large and small but govt sits on it's hands.
    We could restrict the water guzzling crops that grow well in other States/countries: Rice, cotton,corn,alfalfa,dairy, sugar beet,lettuce,sod. Eliminate those 7 crops and we have a much smaller water problem.
    None of this will be done so the problem will deteriorate. Larger forces than mere Govt will eventually resolve the situation.Like it did in Oklahoma in the Dust Bowl years. Businesses will leave, people will follow. Land and homes will fall in value.What other realistic scenario is there?

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  17. Today the court of appeal struck down tiered water rates as violating the prohibition on cities charging more than the cost of a service. That means the only politically viable tool available to cities is gone. If they start fining and shutting off water there will be a revolution. Jerry Brown is furious.

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    1. Huge defeat for Michael Colantuono. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

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