Nearly one year ago, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a pair of bills creating permanent residential water rationing standards throughout the state of California. Senate Bill 606 by Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), and AB 1668 by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), impose a mandatory limit of 55 gallons per person per day on indoor water consumption beginning in 2020.
Specifically, AB 1668 established an indoor water use standard of 55 gallons per capita daily until January 1, 2025. Beginning January 1, 2025, until January 1, 2030, the indoor water use standard drops to 52.5 gallons per day, and beginning January 1, 2030, it drops again to 50 gallons per capita daily.
While South Africa, known as a “water-stressed country,” limits its citizens to a maximum of 50 gallons per day, California’s 2019 Sierra snowpack was measured at 500 inches, and is on record at 188 percent of normal.
Rather than build much needed, already approved water infrastructure projects for less than the cost of implementing AB 1668 and SB 606, California’s political class prefers to impose controls through water scarcity.
Drought as Opportunity
On May 9, 2016, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an Executive Order to “make water conservation a way of life” in California, which opened the floodgates for future water rationing legislation.
The oft-repeated media canard that farmers use 80 percent of California’s water, is not true. “The statistic is manufactured by environmentalists to distract from the incredible damage their policies have caused,” according to Rep. Devin Nunes of California. “Environmentalists have manufactured the 80 percent statistic by deliberately excluding environmental diversions from their calculations. Furthermore, in many years there are additional millions of acre-feet of water that are simply flushed into the ocean due to a lack of storage capacity — a situation partly explained by environmental groups’ opposition to new water-storage projects.”
Droughts are nature’s fault; they are naturally occurring. But water shortages are the fault of government officials.
The state of California hasn’t significantly invested in water storage since the 1970s when Jerry Brown was governor the first time around. “This is an era of limits and we all had better get used to it,” Brown said upon being elected governor in 1975, embracing the “small is beautiful” way of thinking. Since then, California’s population doubled, as have environmental demands.
More than fifty-percent of the state’s water resources are allowed to flow out the San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean, because of the San Joaquin River Settlement, which caused the loss of agricultural water supply by way of a lawsuit by the Natural Resources Defense Council. The lawsuit claimed that Friant Dam violated environmental laws (explained in detail in this 2006 article). The outcome allows for anywhere between 250,000 and 360,000 acre-feet of water to be specifically dedicated to fish habitat on the San Joaquin River – water that used to go to agriculture, explained Wayne Western Jr. at the San Joaquin Valley Sun.
All told, 50 percent of California’s water goes toward environmental purposes. Of the rest of the water, only about 10 percent goes to “urban” uses for homes and businesses, and 40 percent is used by agriculture. A full 50 percent of the water is used for environmental purposes.
California’s most recent drought, 2011-2016, was billed by government and media as the driest period in the state’s recorded rainfall history. However, scientists who study the Western United States’ long-term climate patterns say otherwise: California has been dry for significantly longer periods — more than 200 years at a time, and long before the industrial revolution.
In 2016, following a year of near-normal amounts of rain and snow, Gov. Jerry Brown ordered permanent urban water restrictions, including bans on hosing down driveways and using sprinklers following rain. Brown also reiterated mandatory permanent reductions in water use by cities.
While California homeowners have had to parch their lawns and replace dead shrubs and trees with rock gardens, install low-flow shower heads and toilets, just to save a few extra gallons of precious household water, the government wastes hundreds of billion of gallons of water annually, letting it rush to the ocean to assist bait fish and baby salmon — which swim there anyway. While California farmers and ranchers have had their water cut off by government, Jerry Brown doubled down on urban water restrictions and climate change policy.
This year, five Chinook adult salmon were recorded swimming upstream to spawn. “In water-starved California, that was quite an achievement, given that each salmon required 50,000 gallons of water to get the job done, coming at a price tag of $890 million at the low end and $2 billion at the high,” Monica Showalter wrote at American Thinker. “And that water came out of the hides of California’s farmers, who got very little of the water they were promised, and paid for, as a result. That’s some use of resources to get those five salmon to swim upstream.” Showalter said this came at a cost of $178 million per fish.
“Green Leftists take over California. Congratulations America you just spent $178 Million per fish and flushed millions of gallons of precious water out to the Pacific Ocean,” Tweeted Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
Green Leftists take over California. Congratulations America you just spent $178 Million per fish and flushed millions of gallons of precious water out to the Pacific Ocean. https://t.co/WUWKltEIU8
— Devin Nunes (@DevinNunes) April 27, 2019