Thursday, April 9, 2015

State Mandated 35% Water Use Reductions: Does This Mean RHNA Numbers Are Now Irrelevant?

Process conscious Sacramento planning pigeons 
Now here is an interesting situation. Cities in California have been required to meet the demands of Regional Housing Needs Allocation (or is that assessment?) numbers (RHNA) for quite some time. These are the new development requirement quantities doled out by organizations known as Regional Planning Organizations (ours being the always awful SCAG) in order to accommodate the housing demands of all those mythological new people arriving in California. Even though there haven't been quite so many new people arriving here in the last five or so years, with nearly as many leaving the state as showing up.

In places such as Sierra Madre, which we like to think of as being already built-out enough (thank you very much), these numbers are particularly onerous because they are often responsible for the kinds of unwanted high-density stack and pack housing that many feel is out of character in our town. That and cookie cutter development planning mandates generated by Sacramento hardly work in wonderfully idiosyncratic communities such as ours. They don't really work anywhere else either, as some of those more capitulatory communities have discovered.

At least in the opinion of many who live here. Besides, didn't state run central planning go out with the old Soviet Union? It didn't seem to work so well for them.

Here is my question. Are RHNA numbers even relevant anymore? Particularly when Governor Jerry Brown has somehow now decreed that Sierra Madre, along with Arcadia, Pasadena and many other similarly afflicted cities, must now reduce their water usage by as much as 35%? Which is even more than most other cities?

So can these cities be expected to accommodate a significant percentage of new state mandated high density housing while also cutting their water usage by more than a third?

This from today's Pasadena Star News (link):

Some Southern California cities will have to reduce water use by 35 percent under new plan - Several cities in Southern California will have to reduce water use by as much as 35 percent under a new conservation schedule released by the State Water Resources Control Board.

Arcadia, Beverly Hills, Colton, Glendora, La Habra, Redlands, Sierra Madre, South Pasadena and Upland are some of the cities targeted to reach the top tier water reduction standard, which goes from 10 percent to a high of 35 percent.

Here in Sierra Madre the debate has been how much in additional water use reductions can people be expected to make after having already cut their usage back significantly already. Well, Governor Brown has now decided that for us. If it goes through, that number is 35% more.

But things get even worse.

Reduction percentages were based on a city, community or water agency’s previous gallons per person per day from September, which the agency is using as a benchmark for its tiered schedule.

Some 411 urban water agencies, cities and communities will be subject to the schedule of reductions if approved by the State Water Board. The board has scheduled a vote on the plan on May 5.

Agencies not meeting reduction targets can be fined as much as $10,000 per day, according to the SWRCB.

$10,000 a day would quickly put a considerable dent in any city's General Fund rather quickly.

So does Sacramento believe that the cities listed above, locales such as ours that are being ordered to make draconian 35% water use reductions tout suite, can also be expected to knuckle under to the kinds of increases in SCAG housing its RHNA numbers require us to plan for?

Seems like a conflict in Sacramento's central planning priorities to me. Maybe someone at City Hall should ask them about this.

Farmers are off the water hook

Jerry Brown might want you to reduce your water usage by 35%, but farmers? Not so much. This from ABC News (link):

California Gov. Jerry Brown Defends Farms’ Water Use, Warns Changes May Come - Days after taking the unprecedented step of ordering mandatory water-use reductions throughout his state, California Gov. Jerry Brown defended his executive order’s treatment of the state’s agriculture industry and its use of water in an interview with ABC's "This Week."

Brown said California's farms are “providing most of the fruits and vegetables of America,” as well as jobs for the state’s most vulnerable residents. Though agriculture accounts for only 2 percent of California's economy, it consumes 80 percent of the state's water, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank.

The Democratic governor also emphasized how much agriculture has already been hurt by the state's drought.

“The farmers have fallowed hundreds of thousands of acres of land," Brown told ABC’s Martha Raddatz. "They’re pulling up vines and trees. Farm workers who are very low end of the economic scale here are out of work. There are people in agriculture areas that are really suffering.”

Brown said shutting water allocations off would displace hundreds of thousands of people.

"If you don't want to produce any food and import it from some other place, of course you could do that," he said. "But that would displace hundreds of thousands of people and I don't think it's needed."

Almonds yes, lawns no? Interesting times we are living in.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

97 comments:

  1. The money assessed in fines for misuse of water. Who gets it and how will it be used?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Previous Bond measures for water infrastructure were spent on 'affordable housing' -not on reservoirs.
      We have had no reservoirs built since the 1960's ,so they won't use the fines for anything water-related.

      Delete
    2. A lot of bond money was used to build water infrastructure for the Downtown Specific Plan. On a lot of it we are still paying interest only.

      Delete
    3. How about putting the funds into removing the problems in desalinization?

      Delete
    4. The problem with desalinization has always been the expense. But with fresh water becoming so expensive, that cost factor might not seem so bad anymore.

      Delete
    5. Desal is power-intensive and creates brine, not to mention the cost

      http://blogs.kqed.org/science/audio/why-isnt-desalination-the-answer-to-all-californias-water-problems/

      But in some coastal communities it's the only option as local sources dry up
      Other communities have the option of recycling water and recharging local aquifers

      http://greenswardcivitas.blogspot.com/2009/07/completing-circle.html

      Delete
    6. The bond money was spent on reservoirs. All you have to do is look at the Mira Monte reservoir to see where nearly 10 million dollars was spent. Jesus. People are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts.

      The fines will likely be spent on the much higher cost of imported water. With reductions in consumption, they'll need it for operating expenses.

      Delete
  2. I don't mind letting California farmers have the water they need. They produce a lot of food for the nation and the world which helps add to the CA economy ( which as we all know, needs all the help it can get) and, I can eat almonds. Lawns, not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Stop with the Almonds nonsense. Modern Almond orchards are drip irrigated and are not water hogs.
      The Hall of Shame for excessive water consumption on crops that could be better produced in naturally wetter States are:
      SMELT !!!,Rice, Dairy, Corn, Alfalfa(for export!),Cotton, Turf grass,Peaches,Grapefruit.
      If those crops and the stupid Smelt bathing were 'transferred' to States with appropriate climate it would probably solve the water shortage.
      But this is not a problem that logic, hydrology or agronomics will solve -it is political.

      Delete
  3. So let's see if I have this straight. One part of the state capital is telling us we have to reduce our water usage 35%, while another part says we have to allow for more development. That makes sense how?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you really think it's supposed to make sense, lol.

      Delete
  4. Wonder about the 2,000,000 gallons a day of fresh water for fracking. AND, if our gardens and fruit trees have to survive on even less water then they die and we have to go to the store and buy from them, lots of work to be done figuring this out. And on top of all that some people have water they cant drink or shouldn't drink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Got any hard evidence for that 2 million gallons figure? Sounds like one of those Buzzword figures. CA doesn't frack that much anyhow. That's why CA gas is so damned expensive. Don't worry, you can ride the bus like Big Government wants you to do anyway.

      Delete
    2. http://californiansagainstfracking.org/californians-against-fracking-releases-new-data-analysis-oil-industry-in-california-wastes-2-million-gallons-of-water-each-day/

      Delete
    3. Fracking is both good and bad. On the one hand it has helped make the United States a leading petroleum producer, driven gas prices down, and freed us from dependence upon looney tunes Middle East oil producing countries. On the other hand it has poisoned water tables, uses up huge amounts of water in drought hammered states, leads to seismic instability and is an environmental disaster. I guess it depends on what is important to you.

      Delete
    4. californiansagainstfracking.org? Wow, that'll be an independent analysis, LOL

      Delete
  5. We know the city wont support us so maybe we need a petition signed by all of us that have already reduced our usage so much. And how about all the new development that uses more water that were not on the usage list from the past year.
    We who have been saving are getting fined for saving as we cant use even less. Falls into that category of no good deed goes unpunished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good point 7.07. Negative incentives,punish the virtuous.
      The Kensington is an absolute albatross for our water conservation numbers.

      Delete
    2. Ah Jeez, not only will the Carter McMansions be built, but we have to subsidize them!

      Delete
  6. How large a lot do you have to have to apply for a farmers rate?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grow blueberries and almonds.

      Delete
  7. Sierra Madre uses a lot more gallons per citizen because we have a lot more average outdoor yard per citizen. Increasing density decreases green yards, water for the green yards gets transferred for use to people living on where the green was. I don't know if the person will use much more than the yard or not. Does overall use slightly increase, or slightly decrease when you get rid of an irrigated green space and replace it with a person? If you stack it with 50 people, one would assume it would increase. Put 4 people in, maybe it would decrease.

    I love the lack of density, the quiet, the feel of community, the trees and greenery. But if we don't get rainfall, then our community becomes more like the Mojave Desert climate, and without the water to bring fake green into it, we simply will have to have substantially different looking outdoor space with a lot more rocks and succulents.

    If we lived within that type of landscape, then of course any additional people will need much more water.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Putting more concrete and structures into a landscape will only increase the "urban heat island" effect that is dissipating the morning fog we used to get (burns it off), increase local temperature and destroy the ability of local landscaping and watersheds to capture and recycle water and moisture. People aren't getting that part, you have to have natural processes or the entire ecosystem overheats and the cycles of water and nutrients shut down and die. That's why this is happening.

      So rip out the lawns and pools, which truly don't belong here, and allow the natural landscape to regenerate, and replace the lawns with drought-tolerant shrubs and ground cover with lots of mulch. The more that natural areas regenerate, the more resistance we have to drought. Entire watersheds in many countries have been restored this way by replanting with appropriate trees and shrubbery, removing concrete and asphalt which basically "cooks" everything and prevents subterranean water movement.

      Design with nature, reduce the human footprint, and we'll work our way out of this.

      PS from Huffpo: "If you eat just six fewer 4-oz burgers per year it'll save as much water as not showering. The. Whole. Year."

      Delete
    2. I'm not giving up my In-N-Out.Deal with it.

      Delete
    3. Have a nice heart attack, but at least you enjoyed the burgers

      Delete
    4. There is actually some truth to the Hufpo reference- Beef and particularly Dairy use extreme amounts of water - That agriculture belongs in Wisconsin , Washington State, Oregon ,not arid parts of California.

      Delete
    5. I have always read "In & Out" as a description of the digestive process.

      Delete
    6. Wow 9:15. Would like to hear more about watersheds being restored, and how they did it. Any examples?

      Delete
    7. 9:25 never heard of statins, I guess.

      Delete
  8. 6:58, where did you get that 2 million gallon figure from and why is it fresh water and not salt water?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And assuming they don't reuse it for more fracking? Damned facts, they screw up the Greens.

      Delete
    2. http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats-fracking/faq/water-used

      How much water is used during fracking operations?
      Generally, 2-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. Some wells consume much more. A well may be fracked multiple times, with each frack increasing the chances of chemical leakage into the soil and local water sources.

      The sheer volume of water brought to and from the fracking site means a glut of tanker trucks through your town. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation estimates each well, per frack, will require 2.4 to 7.8 million gallons of water. This translates into roughly 400 to 600 tanker truckloads of liquids to the well, and 200 to 300 tanker truckloads of liquid waste from the well. An eighteen-wheeler weighs up to 80,000 lbs. Day-in, day-out, these trucks destroy roads and bridges, leaving towns to clean up the mess.

      Further, the one-well model is not an accurate representation of fracking operations, which can consist of 20 wells per "pad" and dozens of pads. Overall, 38,400 to 172,800 tanker truck trips are possible over a well pad life.

      Delete
    3. Lord save me from well intentioned Junk Science ! The merit in the general argument against fracking is lost because of baseless assertions and plain nonsense. Just one example:
      Fracking occurs very much deeper than any artesian water.

      Delete
    4. Who said that?

      Delete
    5. 8:55 loves him some Al Gore, that's fer sure.

      Delete
    6. They all stink. Gore, Bush, Obama, Clinton, to hell with them all.

      Delete
    7. I agree. I wish people wouldn't mention those people on this blog. They are not relevant.

      Delete
    8. How the heck do you think we got here? Lots of blame to spread around. And yes, 1:06, you voted for a lot of them. Own it.

      Delete
    9. nice try, 9:34

      Delete
  9. According to KPCC this morning cities hit with that 35% reduction number are considered the worst water overusers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought Bruce said we were doing pretty good?

      Delete
    2. Bruce says a lot of things.

      Delete
    3. Bruce said we don't have any problems with dis-colored water.........
      Bruce said we need money for rusty pipes - and then spent it on benefits
      Bruce said ...........
      Consider the source?

      Delete
    4. Bruce says whatever is convenient at the time.

      Delete
    5. Inman led this water department right into the ground.

      Delete
    6. Wait'll the full impact of those nuclear water bonds hit. Especially the one we're only paying interest on.

      Delete
  10. All that empty space at Howie's? Somebody needs to open a store called Cactusland.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is a great xeriscape nursery on Rosemead at Delmar

      Delete
    2. That would be on the east side of Rosemead where Del Mar dead ends.
      California Cactus Center
      216 S Rosemead Blvd
      Pasadena, CA 91107

      Delete
    3. That place is pricey though.

      Delete
  11. This drought is good disciplining for everyone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kind of like the Obama/Brown economy. Everyone suffers except Crony Capitalists.

      Delete
    2. Nothing like that ever happened under Bush Jr.

      Delete
    3. Thanks but I am self disciplined and have been using drip irrigation and every water saving device known to man since the early 1980's.
      If you consider this is a political mess, I don't understand why you think Pols will solve it for you?
      http://www.city-journal.org/2015/25_1_california-drought.html

      Delete
    4. Hey Dubya, find those WMD's yet?

      Delete
    5. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rage, consuming American lives and national treasure, former President George W. Bush spends his days painting pictures of dogs.
      http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--rN28xvWI--/18gw0zg0xka4qjpg.jpg

      Delete
    6. The dumbassery abounds today.

      10:05, the NY Times found the WMDs.
      http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/10/14/world/middleeast/us-casualties-of-iraq-chemical-weapons.html?_r=0

      Sorry, now you can get back to attacking Bush.

      Delete
    7. http://www.dailyracingrag.com/bush/bush-shower-painting.jpg

      Delete
    8. Retired people paint. Like this is breaking news?

      Delete
    9. Most of them leave their butts out of it, though.

      Delete
    10. Get a life, dude.

      Delete
    11. Yeah, you're right. I'll take up painting.

      Delete
    12. That would be an improvement over showing your IQ on the Tattler.

      Delete
    13. 10:44 Those old chemical weapons were financed by Bush I. Remember how chummy Rumsfeld was with Hussein back then, giving him several billion dollars in "aid" right after he gassed the Kurds?

      Now that you've told us about old chemical weapons we already knew about, tell us where the yellow cake is. Surely, they've found it by now.

      Delete
    14. 10:44 not even close to winning your argument. sorry pal you backed the wrong horse

      Delete
  12. LA Times today reports on Pasadena's expanding hotel construction/remodeling. The water usage by tourists, one piddle/flush at a time, huge water use by those without local sensibilities to share the pain.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The cut backs are going to be based on Oct 2014 usage. That works for Arcadia because they haven't saved a drop, but in Sierra Madre we were already at 20 to 30% cutbacks. No way can we cut back another 30%. Our City Council better scream

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought we didn't actually reduce our water consumption until recently, which is when we actually reduced use by 27%. The decrease was right after the rate increase... when did that happen? Would be nice if we are already almost there because we reduced use right after Oct 2014.

      But wait, shouldn't use be based on average yearly consumption? Not average consumption from one of the wetter months?

      Delete
    2. Right 8:51!
      We're in the position of those residents who spoke at council meetings, the few who had started conserving years ago, who ended up being punished for it - the records to consult have to be back before we started conserving.

      Delete
  14. This drought is going to shut down development if it doesn't break within a year or so. The thing is, the climate change is driving these extremes, particularly the high pressure ridges (Hadley Cells) that are now parked over So Cal and also Sao Paulo, which has even less water now than we do, and nearly 12 million people. They're already experiencing dry taps for days on end. Their problem is that the government hasn't done anything about it, and they're in denial about the water situation. The Amazon forest has been so decimated that it doesn't evapotranspirate the abundant moisture from the Amazon River basin like it used to, which fed the formerly abundant rain clouds, so two strikes against it for recovering from this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A little closer to home than the Amazon.... cough
      The Climate Change issue has become academically derelict with the fiddling of the data by 'Scientists'. Worse it has become a political football. So a serious issue has suffered a mortal casualty -Truth.
      Our current weather pattern is well within historic ,natural variations dating back to before Christ !
      http://www.weatherwest.com/archives/tag/ridiculously-resilient-ridge

      Delete
    2. How many people lived in California back before Christ? That is the problem. This time it is happening in a place that has almost 40 million people living in it. Whatever the cause.

      Delete
    3. Natural weather fluctuations, of course, human impact in last 200 years, enormous. As Ghandi said, the world can keep up with need, the world can not keep up with greed.

      Delete
    4. Ah, the Historic Natural Variations canard.

      Please explain the natural source of the huge increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last 200 years and especially the last 50.

      Only the corporatists, who want to keep the stays quo where they externalize their costs and privatize their profits, have made science political.

      Face it. The scientific method that enables you to live your modern life of convenience is the same scientific method that has demonstrated human induced climate change is a fact. Or perhaps you don't "believe" that the scientific method gave us TV, radio, computers, the internet, antibiotics, vaccinations, automobiles, air travel, space travel, etc.?

      Delete
  15. We don't live in Sao Paulo and our government has done nothing. Sierra Madre is being punished for what? Mr. Harabedian needs to start screaming at his buddy Jerry Brown. We were conserving long before those cities on the list. Is Mr. Inman telling the truth? I don't mind getting rid of my lawn and I have many drought resistant plants. Yesterday, I saw water racing toward Baldwin. I could not see where it was coming from but it was on the Arcadia side. This whole thing stinks. Maybe Harabedian is being punished by his party because he went up against the developers.

    ReplyDelete
  16. So far today I have made a pot of coffee and flushed the low flow toilet once for all of last night's use. Two adults here, one pot of coffee, shared flush. I seriously doubt our neighbor town to the east and south has any idea of the dire straight the water supply is in. Also, the cities I heard were most under the gun for this 35% reduction (Arcadia, Temple City, San Marino) were those with populations of recent wealth and building gluttony that have little idea that these towns were carved out of a desert supported by vast quantities of imported water.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have regretted many times the fact that we have an unqualified person as the head of Public Works. Now it looks like he's going to lead us into further disasters. Is Inman is the chief negotiator with the state?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is scary. Elaine will probably be with him. They'll blame the residents.

      Delete
  18. Here's a more accurate mapped picture of the actual reductions proposed by water district. Doesn't always correspond to the cities because a water district can serve several small communities
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/04/01/us/water-use-in-california.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! If our 35% cut is from Oct 2014, then we are getting shafted, and Pasadena, Altadena, and Arcadia are really taking advantage. It shows that South Pas and Sierra Madre reduced use by 9 and 11 percent, La Canada and Montrose flat-lined, and Altadena, Pasadena and Arcadia increased use! (Arcadia by 8%). The increased users need to feel the hammer.

      Delete
    2. Exactly, 11:02.

      Delete
    3. Here's the over-the-top water user in So Cal: Cowan Heights, Orange County.
      Winner winner chicken dinner!

      http://la.curbed.com/archives/2015/04/one_tiny_oc_hood_uses_the_most_water_in_the_southland.php

      Delete
  19. Dry camping skills on land and sea will come in handy now. Dry wiped a butter/cream cheese knife before putting it in dish washer* (energy saver*--uses less water than traditional handwashing--bought ours a few years ago so today's are probably way more efficient) with a piece of used paper trash. The dishwasher sits there a couple of days before it is fiull and turned on.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hey Crawford, why not call your buddy at the Star-News and have them do a feature on what Sierra Madre has been doing on water conservation. We should be the model for all communities to go by - meter moratorium, water restrictions to the max, and fines.

    ReplyDelete
  21. For all of us who have been concerving h2o in Sierra Madre for a long time, this city will really have to clamp down on the big users to get us down to the per person/day usage that the state mandates for these 35% user cities to reduce to.

    Wouldn't SM total usage that put us into the 35% wasteful category have to include the flushing hydrants water loss. Is Inman's report going to include that?



    Our house is usually at the 11 unit/Tier 1; so that is:
    11 x 745 gallons = 8195 gal = 60 days divided by 3 adults = 45 gal/person/day

    making us about the same as an apartment dweller in Santa Ana who are not being asked to reduce any more.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Anyone have any theories about where Jerry"s 35% water use reduction number came from? Seems very arbitrary and unreflective to me.

    ReplyDelete
  23. So California needs to finally wake up from it's developer induced coma, and stop building?
    The only construction that makes any sense is readaptive uses, and that will be true for a long while.

    ReplyDelete
  24. http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2015/04/07/coachella-valley-water-cutback-proposal/254

    check out this desert water usage

    ReplyDelete
  25. Now that we buy water where do we store it? Or do we? Does it just run into our delivery system (storage tanks pumped full up the hillsides)? So if we are conserving yet being placed into a 35% reduction bracket because of daily per capita usage, why? Some of that purchased water is being dumped into the storm water channels as we flush our hydrants to purge the rusty chemical-laden chloramine water that many residents have had to contend with. Ouch!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Last year there was a guest speaker in town discussing the drought. This speaker was talking a 100 year cycle we are entering into. This water problem needs to include everyone, not just singled out cities based on a usage pattern that is not including everything. There should not be a green lawn anywhere in California. The problem is us who have been conserving will be punished more so than those who have not conserved one gallon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True 3:35, but one comfort. Lawns are visible.
      One look at our property and everyone can see we no longer use any water on landscaping.

      Delete
  27. I eat my peas with butter,I done it all my life. It may sound kinda funny,but it keeps 'em on my knife.....

    ReplyDelete
  28. Do I understand this correctly, that we will be conserving so that the mansions on the hillsides can be built?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep.
      But don't worry. The developer assured us that all of the many water appliances in the 5 bathroom family dwellings will be so conservation oriented, they will be much more efficient than anything you peasant residents have in your ancient shacks...

      Delete
    2. It doesn't matter how efficient they are - new homes coming online = greater usage.

      Delete
  29. This just in from the Sacramento Bee

    State regulators: California water use will never be the same
    “This isn’t just breaking the record,” he said. “This is kicking it to the curb.”

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article18005033.html

    ReplyDelete