|Bridge over troubled sand dunes|
When you add in Bruce Inman's much anticipated report on our water woes in general, it should make for a most interesting evening. The discontent in this community over the lack of progress being made on the discolored water problem could come to a head at that meeting. I for one am eagerly looking forward to that discussion. Maybe we should make a special occasion out of it. I'm sure at least a few people would have something to say.
In her always incisive City Manager Report, Elaine Aguilar takes a swing at some of the same water issues we have been discussing on The Tattler these last couple of days. In particular Jerry Brown's edict over how much water Sierra Madre should be permitted to use. Or not use.
Here are Elaine's very matter of fact observations:
State agencies are moving very quickly to address the directives of the Governor’s executive order. On April 7 the State Water Board released their Draft Regulatory Framework, describing their intent for enforcing the statewide 25% water conservation requirement (Governor’s Order #2).
The Board established four conservation Tiers, ranging from 10% to 35% conservation over 2013 water use. Based on Sierra Madre’s September 2014 residential gallons per capita water use, the Board has placed the city in the Tier 4, 35% group of agencies.
Ironically, the state is using R-GPCD as the unit of measurement for setting conservation thresholds; the State Board’s own website states “It is not appropriate to use Residential Gallons Per Capita Day (R-GPCD) water use data for comparisons across water suppliers, unless all relevant factors are accounted for. Factors that can affect per capita water include: Rainfall, temperature and evaporation rates, Population growth, Population density, Socio-economic measures such as lot size and income, and Water prices.”
Should the regulations be adopted (May 5/6) as described, as of June 1, 2015, the city’s water production is to be reduced to a level equivalent to 65% of the June 2013 production. The regulatory framework as presented on the 7th provides no means of appeal and does not describe a compliance schedule.
On April 9th, the state took further action, decreasing the allowable water rate of new toilets, faucets, and urinals. The new limitations take effect January 1, 2016.
In light of the Governor’s action and the flurry of state regulatory this week, staff will include in our water conservation reports a status of compliance with the state’s new mandatory 25% conservation goal, in addition to our month over month comparisons. As a point of beginning the last three full months are:
March 2015 - 21% Conservation over March 2013
February 2015 – 17.6% Conservation over February of 2013 January 2015 – 14.4% Conservation over January of 2013
For April, water use is increasing. April 1-6, Sierra Madre used over 15% more water than the same period in 2014. Nevertheless, overall water production April 1-6 of 2015 was 28% less that in 2013.
One thing I would have hoped for here is a little more detail on why Sierra Madre has been dropped into the most punitive portion of the Governor's water reduction menu, Tier 4. Or Death Row as I've started calling it. Knowing more about the reasons why this unfortunate event happened would give people a better idea of what will likely be expected of them in a few months.
That said, based on Sierra Madre's recent water conservation numbers Elaine is citing here, I'd venture to say that Moonbeam's 35% reduction demand is going to be an exceedingly tough one for this community to hit.
One of best columns on California's water crisis yet
(Mod: I don't know if you are familiar with a guy named Ed Ring, but he is one of the major players over at the California Policy Center website (link). Which is pretty much the same group of folks responsible for Transparent California and some other equally game changing efforts. His recent column on California's water crisis is a home run in my opinion. Here is a portion of it.)
Desalination plants vs. bullet trains and pensions - Current policy solutions enacted to address California’s water crisis provide an object lesson in how corruption masquerading as virtue is impoverishing the general population to enrich a handful of elites.
Instead of building freeways, expanding ports, restoring bridges and aqueducts, and constructing dams, desalination plants, and power stations, California’s taxpayers are pouring tens of billions each year into public sector pension funds – who invest 90 percent of the proceeds out-of-state, and the one big construction project on the table, the $100M+ “bullet train,” fails to justify itself under virtually any credible cost/benefit analysis. Why?
The reason is because infrastructure, genuinely conceived in the public interest, lowers the cost of living. This in-turn causes artificially inflated asset values to fall, imperiling the solvency of pension funds – something that would force them to reduce benefits.
Beneficial infrastructure is also a threat to crony capitalists who don’t want a business climate that attracts competitors. Affordable land, energy, and water encourage economic growth. Crony capitalists and public sector unions alike hide behind environmentalists, who oppose growth and development, all of it, everywhere – because no new developments, anywhere, suits their monopolistic interests. No wonder the only infrastructure vision still alive in California, the “bullet train,” is nothing more than a gigantic, tragic farce.
Urban Water Consumption is a Small Fraction of Total Water Use
Returning to the topic of water, a basic examination of the facts reveals the current drought to be a problem that could be easily solved, if it weren’t for powerful special interests who don’t want it to be solved, ever.
Here’s a rough summary of California’s annual water use. In a dry year, around 150 million acre feet (MAF) fall onto California’s watersheds in the form of rain or snow, in a wet year, we get about twice that much. Most of that water either evaporates, percolates, or eventually runs into the ocean. In terms of net water withdrawals, each year around 31 MAF are diverted for the environment, such as to guarantee fresh water inflow into the delta, 27 MAF are diverted for agriculture, and 6.6 MAF are diverted for urban use. Of the 6.6 MAF that is diverted for urban use, 3.7 MAF is used by residential customers, and the rest is used by industrial, commercial and government customers. 
Put another way, we divert 65 million acre feet of water each year in California for environmental, agricultural and urban uses, and a 25 percent reduction in water usage by residential customers will save exactly 0.9 million acre feet – or 1.4 percent of our total statewide water usage. One good storm easily dumps ten times as much water onto California’s watersheds as we’ll save via a 25 percent reduction in annual residential water consumption.
California’s politicians can impose utterly draconian curbs on residential water consumption, and it won’t make more than a small dent in the problem.
(Mod: Puts into perspective how little that onerous 35% water use reduction number Sierra Madre is being socked with actually means in the grand scheme of things. That plus how things got this bad. To read the rest of Ed Ring's column, including his take on desalination technology that is already in use practically everywhere in the world except our poorly run part of it, click here.)