Organizations, legislators, and interest groups weigh in on the Governor’s executive order and the meager snowpack survey results
Here are reactions to the news of the day, in alphabetical order (new comments being added as I receive them):
From the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA):
“Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) President John Coleman and Executive Director Timothy Quinn issued the following statement on the record-low Sierra snowpack and new actions announced by Gov. Jerry Brown to respond to the drought.
ACWA President John Coleman: “Today should be a wake-up call for those who haven’t yet realized the severity of this drought. The all-important Sierra snowpack – our state’s largest natural reservoir – is at historic low levels, which means there will be abysmally little runoff to replenish reservoirs and groundwater basins that are already straining under four consecutive dry years. The combination of dry conditions and record-warm temperatures has put us in an unprecedented drought that requires an extraordinary response.
“This severe drought calls for all hands on deck. We are one state, and we are all in this together. Local water agencies will respond with renewed urgency and provide leadership with aggressive outreach to customers and a range of programs to maximize supplies and keep as much water in reserve as possible in case the drought persists into 2016. ACWA stands ready to help in this critical endeavor. ”
ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn: “The executive order issued by the governor today reflects the urgency of the drought and provides the stimulus needed to reduce water use statewide and streamline the state’s response to drought. We thank the governor for his leadership, and look forward to working with the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Water Resources, the California Energy Commission and other agencies to determine the best ways to accomplish the goals of the executive order.”
ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose 430 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit www.acwa.com. ACWA partners with the California Department of Water Resources to help consumers reduce water use through Save Our Water, the state’s largest water conservation education program. Visit www.saveourwater.com for details.
From Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins:
“Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) released the following statement regarding Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s executive order for mandatory water restrictions due to the severity of California’s drought:
“As the drought continues to grow in depth and duration, so must our efforts to increase water conservation and efficiency in every part of the state. Our decimated snowpack shows that Governor Brown is right to put these strong, mandatory steps in place. Getting through this drought and future droughts to come will take a combination of immediate, short-range and long-term steps. The Governor’s order today is the right step at the right time. Now, it’s up to all of us to do our part.”
From Mike Wade at the California Farm Water Coalition:
“We applaud Governor Brown for taking more decisive steps toward increased water conservation and improving water management among all water users during this unprecedented drought.
“Identifying illegal diversions and wasteful use of water will benefit the state’s overall water supply. Whether on the farm or in urban areas, illegal water diversions and wasteful use must stop. We have a system of water rights in California that everyone should abide by. Any who is circumventing the law should be identified and face the consequences.
“The Governor has increased the requirements for agricultural water use reporting and water management planning. That adds to the number of districts that will be submitting water management plans. Roughly two-thirds of farm water suppliers are already meeting previous reporting requirements.
“Farmers have already taken steps to conserve the amount of water they use. They have spent $3 billion since 2003 to install more efficient irrigation systems, one and a half times the amount Southern California water users spent building Diamond Valley Lake for new water storage. The use of drip, micro and subsurface irrigation more than doubled from 1991 to 2010, from 16 percent of the state’s irrigated acreage to more than 42 percent today.
“These activities and more have become an everyday practice on California farms and will continue as farmers maintain their commitment to provide a safe and reliable supply of food for consumers.”
From Lester Snow at the California Water Foundation:
“The California Water Foundation issued the below statement from Executive Director Lester Snow following historically low April 1 snow survey results announced by the Department of Water Resources and the executive order issued by Gov. Brown in response.
“Today’s snow survey results are alarming. With practically no runoff forecasted from the Sierra into our network of reservoirs and rivers, we are in store for what could be the most challenging summer our farms, our fish and our families have ever witnessed. Over the next several months we will see rural communities run out of clean water, crops and trees left to wither, and streams and wetlands dried up, leaving fish and water fowl with nowhere to go.
“The Governor’s executive order is a necessary and critical part of the state’s response. With the drought already upon us, there are only so many things the state can do, and today’s actions are among them. From requiring mandatory water reductions to increasing enforcement of water wasters to streamlining the state’s drought response, we must do all we can to conserve water. We are in this together, and everyone will have to contribute and everyone will feel the effects. So far, the impacts have been felt most acutely by farms, lower income communities, and the environment, but it is clear that this crisis will require much more aggressive conservation in our towns and cities. It is time for Californians to make the shift away from grass and embrace more native and drought tolerant landscaping.
“The state also needs to make it easier for someone with water to transfer it to someone who needs it more – including the environment. Our water transfer system should be made more efficient, flexible, and accessible. If we don’t use this drought as a wake-up call and make long-term investments and changes to how we manage and use water, we will have wasted a critical opportunity and run the risk of more of the same in the future.
“We must continue to enact bold measures to make our state more resilient, able to withstand long periods of drought and lead us on a path to sustainability. We need to proceed as if this drought could last several more years. Only by changing how we manage water do we have any hope of achieving a healthy and reliable water supply for future generations.”
About the California Water Foundation
The California Water Foundation, an initiative of Resources Legacy Fund, is committed to achieving a sustainable water supply to meet the needs of California’s farms, cities, and environment today and into the future. The Water Foundation supports innovative projects and policies and brings together experts, stakeholders, and the public to achieve 21st century solutions. For more information, please visit www.CaliforniaWaterFoundation.org
From Food and Water Watch:
“It is disappointing that Governor Brown’s executive order to reduce California water use does not address the state’s most egregious corporate water abuses. In the midst of a severe drought, the Governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water.
“The Governor must save our groundwater from depletion by directing the State Water Board to protect groundwater as a public resource. Governor Brown should direct the Water Board to place a moratorium on the use of groundwater for irrigating crops on toxic and dry soils on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. In the two year period covering 2014-2015, the Westlands Water District is on pace to pump over 1 million acre feet of groundwater – more water than Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco combined use in 1 year. Much of Westlands grows water-intensive almonds and pistachios, most of which are exported out of state and overseas. This is a wasteful and unreasonable water use, especially during a severe drought.
“Governor Brown should also stop the ongoing contamination of groundwater aquifers by toxic wastewater from oil and gas operations. It is disturbing and irresponsible that the Brown administration continues to allow oil companies to contaminate and rob Californians of these fresh water sources. Given that there is currently no safe way to dispose of toxic wastewater, the Governor should place a moratorium on fracking and other dangerous oil extraction techniques to prevent the problem from getting even bigger.”
From the City of Los Angeles:
“Mayor Eric Garcetti praised the Governor’s action on water conservation today and said that it will join with his Mayoral Executive directive from the Fall to further drive water use down in LA to reach Mayor Garcetti’s targets a reduction in per capita potable water use by 20% by 2017 and a 50% reduction in LADWP purchase of imported water by 2024.
The Governor’s announcement came earlier today following the State’s snow survey that show the snowpack at 6% of normal and the lowest on record. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) most recent snowpack survey results show just 1-inch of water content in the Eastern Sierra, 2% of normal, that supplies water to Los Angeles via the Los Angeles Aqueduct. This the lowest level recorded in LA history.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “We are making the drought a top priority because this record drought threatens our economy and environment at crisis levels. I welcome Gov. Brown’s announcement and the state’s response to our historic drought, which joins with my directive to cut our city’s water consumption by 20% by 2017 and increase rebates for residential turf removal to $3.75 per square foot. Since I announced my executive directive in October 2014, Los Angeles has reduced its water consumption by 7 gallons per capita per day and we are on track to meet our goal of 20% reduction by 2017. And in the current fiscal year, we’ve replaced three times as much turf as we have in all of last year. Now we must keep up our momentum to conserve, recycle and rethink how we use water to save money and ensure we have enough supply so that our city can thrive.”
Los Angeles has implemented various measures to continue drought response and cut back even further. Successes include:
Mayor Garcetti’s Executive Directive 5 in October 2014 increased turf removal and replacement rebates to $3.75 a square foot for residential customers. Since the program was rolled in 2009, Los Angeles customers both residential and commercial have removed nearly 14 million square feet of turf saving more than 480 million gallons of water each year. In the current fiscal year, turf rebates processed have already tripled as of February 15 compared to all of 2013-2014.
City departments have also accelerated turf removal and replacement in city facilities. LADWP alone has replaced 326,307 square feet of turf in 15 LADWP facilities.
In an effort to lead by example, City departments have reduced outdoor watering to two days a week for all city facilities and urged customers to do the same.
Los Angeles has reduced drinking water use at large landscapes including golf courses—currently, 76% of LA’s city public golf courses are irrigated with recycled water.
More than $280 million have been disbursed in water conservation rebates since 1990, yielding an annual water savings of more than 110,000 acre-feet or 36 billion gallons.
From the Metropolitan Water District:
“Randy Record, chairman of the board of directors of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, issues the following statement regarding today’s Northern California snow survey by the California Department of Water Resources and Gov. Jerry Brown’s Drought Executive Order:
“The governor’s call to action matches the severity of the water situation facing all of California. Southern California has been taking the lead in turf removal during this drought, with Metropolitan’s $100 million ongoing rebate program. We applaud the call to remove additional turf throughout the state and ending the wasteful practice of irrigating ornamental lawns on street medians with potable water. It is time to stop watering turf that serves no function.
“We hope to partner with the state to immediately drive down water use throughout our service area. The Board of Directors will be meeting later this month to determine how to manage our available supplies in the coming year. While Southern California has added 5 million people in the past generation and at the same time decreased use of imported water, we realize that this drought requires dramatic action at this time.”
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a cooperative of 26 cities and water agencies serving nearly 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource management programs.
From the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“Following is a statement from Steve Fleischli, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program:
“Tough times call for tough measures, and the Governor’s action is exactly the kind of leadership we need in ensuring we conserve more water across the state.
“With record-low snow on the ground and no end to this drought in sight, it’s absolutely critical that our leaders – and our local suppliers – are implementing long- and short-term solutions to California’s water challenges. The days of casual waste and inattentive consumption are over in California. Now everyone will be expected to do his or her part to help save water.”
From Assemblymember Kristen Olsen:
“Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, of Modesto, issued the following statement today in response to Governor Brown’s executive order setting a 25 percent mandatory water reduction statewide:
“Governor Brown’s executive order shows just how serious our ongoing drought has become. I join with the Governor in urging every Californian to reduce water usage. The Sierra snowpack is far below normal and there are no major storms on the horizon. Californians must do their part and conserve to ensure that we have enough water for residents and farmers. A statewide effort to conserve is a much preferred alternative to the zero water allocations that have had devastating impacts on the economy.
“I’m pleased to see the Governor responding to our call for fast-tracking new water supply projects across the state. It’s past time to streamline the review process for water infrastructure projects. I’m looking forward to working together to further eliminate any unnecessary red-tape or barriers to increased storage and other critical projects, such as desalination, groundwater cleanup, and water recycling, to increase California’s water supply.”
From Poseidon Water:
“Following measurement of the lowest snowpack ever recorded in California history, Governor Jerry Brown announced today, an executive order that will save water, increase enforcement of wasteful water use, invest in new technologies, and streamline the permitting process for water infrastructure projects such as desalination facilities. Scott Maloni, Vice President of Poseidon Water, issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s action:
“The Governor’s Executive Order issued today is consistent with the policy goals established in the state’s Water Action Plan and clearly demonstrates his commitment to developing new local water supplies including seawater desalination. A streamlined permitting process will significantly help our proposed Huntington Beach project become a reality. We are looking forward to bringing this project before the Coastal Commission for their approval this year and finally bringing a drought-proof water supply to millions of coastal residents.”
Poseidon Water is in the late stages of developing its 50 million gallon per day seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach, CA. A permit from the California Coastal Commission is the last discretionary approval at the state level required to construct the facility.
In January 2014, the Governor released the administration’s Water Action Plan. Action Item #2 in the Water Action Plan states:
“Increase Regional Self-Reliance and Integrated Water Management Across all Levels of Government. This action includes the following goal: Streamline Permitting for Local Water Reuse or Enhancement Projects – “The administration will review and propose measures to streamline permitting for local projects that make better use of local water supplies such as recycling, stormwater capture, and desalination of brackish and seawater as well as projects that provide multiple benefits, such as enhancing local water supplies while improving wildlife habitat.”
Poseidon Water specializes in developing and financing water infrastructure projects, primarily seawater desalination and water treatment plants. These projects are implemented through innovative public-private partnerships in which private enterprise assumes the developmental and financial risks. For more information on Poseidon Water and the Huntington Beach desalination facility, visit http://HBfreshwater.com.
From Restore the Delta:
“Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Gov. Brown’s rush to build water export Tunnels that would drain the Delta and doom sustainable farms, salmon and other Pacific fisheries, today responded to Gov. Brown’s latest drought measures. “Governor Brown has had two responses of opposite extremes to the drought crisis,” said executive director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. “The first response is to place the largest burden of conservation on urban water users. His second response is to push the Delta further toward ecological collapse by expediting the placement of a barrier system to block water flows. Those barriers will decimate fisheries and leave the people of the Delta to suffer due to drought mismanagement by state and federal agencies over the last four years. Governor Brown vacillates between advocating for a good start on urban conservation and inflicting destruction on the Bay-Delta estuary. He refuses to deal with the real crisis: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed has been five times over promised, with 70% of those water deliveries going to big almond growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Enforcing better reporting by agricultural users is an important step, but we already know which watersheds are oversubscribed and that the only way to solve the problem is for adjudication of the Delta watershed.”
The state and federal water projects’ drought contingency plan for 2015 estimates that water districts relying on Delta exports have indicated a need for health and safety-related water supplies of 510,000 acre-feet. The water projects have already pumped over 739,000 acre-feet in 2015, about 82 percent of which was stored as of March 21 at San Luis Reservoir, west of Los Banos. It is not yet known how much of these exports are for the health and safety purposes of Metropolitan Water District customers, who will be making sacrifices as a result of water rationing and participating heroically in personal responsibility campaigns, and how much is to satisfy industrial mega-farm demand south of the Delta.
“There is not enough water in the watershed to satisfy the insatiable demands of big agribusiness growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to keep enough surface water in reserve for urban populations,” added Barrigan-Parrilla.
Restore the Delta Policy Analyst Tim Stroshane said, “The proposed drought barriers project for the Delta will allow the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation to continue managing upstream storage so that the pain of the drought will be borne by Delta residents and ecosystems, and not by Delta water takers. The barriers will have drastic consequence on fisheries, commercial and recreational fishing economies, various Delta farming communities, recreation economies, all so that water will be made available beyond what is needed for health and human safety, but for what purposes we don’t know.”
“California must save water first through agriculture reductions on polluted drainage impaired land, which uses 2/3 of the Delta’s exported water. To protect urban areas, we need a Marshall plan to implement conservation, groundwater storage, storm water capture, cisterns, recycling and effective drought planning. Estimates show that it will cost tens of billions to repair urban water systems alone.” Barrigan-Parrilla said.
In the last 28 water years (since the beginning of the 1987-92 drought), wet and above normal years have occurred just 11 times (39 percent of the time) in both the San Joaquin and Sacramento River basins. This means that the premise of “emergency” drought barriers is false. “Emergency” connotes an event that is short-lived and infrequent, if it occurs at all. But below normal to critical water years occur more than half the time (as they have for almost the last three decades). “Emergency” becomes meaningless.
“The Department of Water Resources plans to install and remove barriers simultaneously with when juvenile salmon would be attempting to rear in, or emigrate through, the Delta before they leave for the Pacific Ocean. The most invasive and disruptive activities associated with the barriers proposal occur at critically sensitive times in the life histories of these most magnificent and vulnerable listed species,” Stroshane added.
Waters upstream and downstream of the barriers within the Delta will stagnate. When the dilution action of flows is greatly reduced during summer heat, water temperatures increase, salinity is projected to increase, and pollutant and contaminant concentrations will increase as well.
With the drought barriers, Delta smelt are likely to face extinction this year, with barriers installed to limit flow. And the Delta itself will be become an even less hospitable place for the vulnerable fish species that remain.
“Whether it’s the barriers or the Delta tunnels, it is apparent how little Governor Brown cares for the San Francisco Bay-Delta estuary. He has not insisted on the fallowing of fields during the drought by junior water rights holders. He is pushing Delta smelt to extinction, setting up our salmon fisheries for failure, and sacrificing sustainable six-generation Delta farms for almonds, fracking, and speculative desert development,” concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.
Restore the Delta is a 20,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. www.restorethedelta.org
From the San Diego County Water Authority:
“Today’s call to action by the governor and the record low April snowpack emphasize just how urgent water conservation is for San Diego County and the rest of California. While we are still reviewing the details of this morning’s executive order, we support the governor’s leadership and will do everything possible to help our region comply with the mandates.
“San Diego County has prepared prudently for drought conditions, but we are entering uncharted territory after four dry years coupled with record high temperatures. The Water Authority’s Board of Directors meets on April 23 to set water supply cutback levels, but residents and businesses shouldn’t wait. Reduce landscape irrigation, trim shower times, fix all leaks immediately – and urge your friends and neighbors to do the same. By conserving now, we preserve our limited storage reserves in case next winter’s snowpack is as meager as this one.”
— Mark Weston, chair
San Diego County Water Authority Board of Directors
From the State Water Contractors:
“Governor Jerry Brown announced today an executive order mandating a 25 percent reduction in water use across the state. The first-ever statewide mandatory reduction aims to save water, increase enforcement to prevent wasteful water use, streamline the state’s drought response and invest in new technologies that will make California more drought resilient. The announcement follows one of the California Department of Water Resources’ last snow surveys of the year – snow surveyors trekked across the Sierra Nevada today and found that water content of the state’s snowpack is just 5 percent of average for this time of year, a new record-low.
“We are closing out the winter months with dirt instead of snow, setting us up for another long year of drought. Historic lows in Sierra Nevada snowpack were met with a historic response from Governor Brown, appropriately calling for new levels of statewide conservation as well as specific actions that support water efficiency. Conservation has long been a focus for public water agencies, farms, businesses and residents throughout the state but now it’s time to reinvigorate those efforts and collectively prepare for a difficult year ahead.
“It’s as clear today as ever before however, that long-term actions are just as critical as short-term actions. These new efficiency efforts must be coupled with needed improvements to California’s water delivery system, which needs to be more drought resilient, with the ability to capture and save water when it’s abundant, so that we are better prepared for dry times like these.”
State Water Contractors
From the Southern California Water Committee:
“Today Governor Brown issued an executive order mandating that cities and towns across California reduce water use by 25 percent. This marks the first time in California’s history that mandatory restrictions on water use have been implemented statewide. The executive order also includes a number of other measures intended to save water in the near-term and make California more drought resilient overall. The governor announced his plans as the California Department of Water Resources conducted the winter’s fourth manual snow survey, which found Sierra snowpack levels to be at astonishing all-time lows.
“With California’s severe drought showing no signs of easing up, it is crucial that we all take steps to stretch limited supplies further than ever before, and Southern California Water Committee commends Governor Brown for taking decisive action to reduce the state’s water usage. Southern California’s water agencies have pioneered innovative strategies to conserve water and make the region more water efficient for the long term, and will continue to seek out ways to conserve water during and beyond this drought.”
Southern California Water Committee
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