July 3, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Water Rationing Already Starting To Go Wrong:

As expected, it’s now late spring and water rationing is upon California. Despite the heavy mid-February rains that briefly drenched Northern California and the respectable ensuing snowfall in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, drought remains.

It may seem odd, but the opening compulsory rationing measures have come in Northern California, closer to the big rivers now carrying lower-than-usual runoff from the high mountains than the big cities to the south, where water conservation is voluntary, so far.

Reasons for this include the fact that the Metropolitan Water  District of Southern California draws supplies from the Colorado River in addition to the Bay Delta region through most of Northern California’s water flows.

The Met has also spent many millions of dollars over the last 20 years to increase its storage capacity, creating new reservoirs and upping underground storage.

So some of the first serious compulsory rationing comes in places on the fringes of the San Francisco Bay Area, cities like Pleasanton and Dublin and Santa Cruz, which get much of their water from local supplies or the state Water Project, but don’t have access to the water San Francisco draws from its Hetch Hetchy reservoir near Yosemite National Park.

Rationing is sensible in some places – like Santa Cruz, where all homes are now limited to 1,000 cubic feet of water per month, or about 249 gallons per day. Local officials say the limits are needed because the area’s streams have all but dried up long before their wet season would normally end.

But in other places, like Pleasanton, a city of 70,000 on the eastern edge of the East Bay area, residents and businesses are compelled to use no more than 75 percent of the water they used at the same time last year.

The more you used in 2013, the more you can use today without paying penalties, which can see water bills double or triple upon a first offense and rise on subsequent violations.

So the water profligates of a year ago have an advantage over anyone who conserved water in 2013, when there was already drought, just not as severe. In short, if neighbors each had lawns of the same size and one watered freely last year, with no regard for conservation, but the other installed a drip irrigation system and cut water use substantially, the one who conserved now can use far less than his profligate neighbor. How fair is that?

Inequitable situations like this were common in the major drought of the 1970s, when homeowners or businesses who saw drought worsening and realized rationing would ensue sometimes increased their water use to make sure they would have a good supply once rationing took hold. No one can prove anybody did

that this year, but it’s very possible and it’s a major flaw where cities ration according to past use.

Other water use inequities abound, too. How fair is it that drought or no drought, Sacramento residents (including tens of thousands of state officials and bureaucrats) use an average of 279 gallons per day, compared with 98 gallons for San Franciscans and less than 150 per day for Los Angeles residents, whom Northern Californians habitually accuse of profligacy? Or for residents of ritzy Hillsborough on the San Francisco Peninsula to use 334 gallons of water daily, on average, to just 79 for those in far less fortunate East Palo Alto?

Plus, while there’s a water metering program in progess in the Central Valley, about half the homes there still no have water meters at all, so owners or tenants can use all they want with no penalties.

As Southern Californians watch this and realize that given another year of drought, they will also be rationed, plenty will realize that the more they use now, the more they’ll be able to use later –

unless water rationing is done on a strict per capita basis.    

Yes, it can sometimes be difficult to know how many persons reside in each household, but Census data can help – taken in 2010, it’s still useful. Any household feeling short-changed could complain and prove it has more occupants than the Census showed.

That’s not a perfect system, but if adopted statewide, would at least be more fair than the patchwork of systems gradually being imposed now, with rationing just beginning and already starting to lean toward the unfair.

in Opinion
Related Posts

Column: Groundwater Law Has Not Stopped Subsidence

July 1, 2022

July 1, 2022

By Tom Elias Drive almost any road in the vast San Joaquin Valley and you’ll see irrigation pipes standing up...

SMa.r.t. Column: It’s Time to Look at the Facts of Santa Monica’s Housing History

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

The Narrative: Santa Monica’s decades-long housing construction “shortage”  The Narrative endlessly repeats the refrain that for decades Santa Monica has...

SMa.r.t. Column: The Mansionization of Santa Monica

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

Editor’s note: This column originally appeared in print in 2016.  In the 1980s, Santa Monica’s single family zoning code was...

OP-Ed Response to DTSM Board Chair Barry Snell and Plea to City Council Regarding Safety Ambassadors and Ambassador Program

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

I am responding to the OP-ED (dated June 7, 2022, Santa Monica Mirror) by City-appointed DTSM Board Member and now...

SMa.r.t. Column: Wheeling Electrically

June 9, 2022

June 9, 2022

A recent weekend visit to Dana Point, on the Orange County coastline, revealed a curious scene: dozens, if not hundreds...

Population Loss: New Era or Pandemic Glitch?

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist The numbers suggest a major change is underway in California. It would take a Nostradamus to...

SMa.r.t. Column: The Sound of Silence Is Big & Tall

June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022

All too often these days we find ourselves wondering how we could have been so correct about so many planning...

OP-Ed: DTSM Chair Barry Snell on Safety Ambassadors

June 2, 2022

June 2, 2022

By Barry Snell Chair, Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. Board of Directors  The Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) Board of Directors...

Affordable Spaces for Small Business

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Los Angeles County recently proposed a program providing financial incentives for certain “Legacy” family businesses in their original historical location....

​​Doubt Removed: Oil Refiners Gouging Us

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist There was some room for doubt back in February, when gasoline prices rose precipitously: Until the...

Is the Big Housing Crunch Mostly Fiction?

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

By Tom Elias, Columnist In some parts of California, there is definitely a housing crunch: small supplies of homes for...

Is Gelson’s Our Future? Bigger Is Not Better & Not Necessary! – Part 2

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

The dream of our beachfront city is about to become a nightmare! Just imagine a tsunami of these projects washing...

Column From Santa Monica Mayor Himmelrich: We Walk the Talk

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

By Sue Himmelrich, Santa Moncia Mayor  I like the SMa.r.t. architects. I often agree with them. But in allowing Mark...

Is Gelson’s Our Future? Bigger Is Not Better!

May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

It’s appalling to see what’s happening in our city – projects recently built or about to be approved – in...

Renting Your Second Home

May 6, 2022

May 6, 2022

If you are among the many Americans who own a second home that you occasionally use as a vacation getaway,...