California does not get much rain these days. Rain has been getting less and less, year after year.
The residents need to consume less water. But which residents? Living where? Cities? Farms?
There is a solution: raise prices. Then let people decide how much they are willing to consume. Those who are willing to pay for more water will be allowed to. Use the higher revenues to develop solutions.
The experts reject this idea. That would mean that poor people will compete with rich people. The horror!
Here is an expert’s opinion. He is on the state’s payroll: a state university professor. He calls for rationing by officials.
Rationing is the knee-jerk reaction of water experts everywhere: increase the power of bureaucrats over all people.
There is a plan. It is of course titled “Sustainable” — the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Note: “sustainable” is a code word for “environmentalism forever.”
Several steps need be taken right now. First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state’s water sectors, from domestic and municipal through agricultural and industrial. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is already considering water rationing by the summer unless conditions improve. There is no need for the rest of the state to hesitate. The public is ready. A recent Field Poll showed that 94% of Californians surveyed believe that the drought is serious, and that one-third support mandatory rationing.
I see. Two-thirds of the voters do not support mandatory rationing; therefore, the state should impose mandatory rationing. This is democracy, as understood by bureaucrats.
Second, the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 should be accelerated. The law requires the formation of numerous, regional groundwater sustainability agencies by 2017. Then each agency must adopt a plan by 2022 and “achieve sustainability” 20 years after that. At that pace, it will be nearly 30 years before we even know what is working. By then, there may be no groundwater left to sustain.
I see. Lifetime rationing. Lifetime planning. We know the drill. “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”
Total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002 … while groundwater depletion has been ongoing since the early 20th century.
Let me understand this. Supply is falling. Demand is increasing. What might solve this? Rationing!
Then there is need for a task force. There is always a need for a task force. The phrase “task force” is bureaucratese for “study group appointed by the governor.”
Third, the state needs a task force of thought leaders that starts, right now, brainstorming to lay the groundwork for long-term water management strategies. Although several state task forces have been formed in response to the drought, none is focused on solving the long-term needs of a drought-prone, perennially water-stressed California.
“Thought leaders” means “senior bureaucrats who favor expanding the power of state bureaucracies.”
How long will this control last? For as long as the future is “harrowing.” The key word here is “perennially.” It means “permanently.”
Our state’s water management is complex, but the technology and expertise exist to handle this harrowing future. It will require major changes in policy and infrastructure that could take decades to identify and act upon. Today, not tomorrow, is the time to begin.
Note: “expertise” means “an entire career spent on the state’s payroll.”
The public must take ownership. Note: “public” means “voters,” as distinguished from “property owners.” Also, “take ownership” means “surrender control.”
Finally, the public must take ownership of this issue. This crisis belongs to all of us — not just to a handful of decision-makers. Water is our most important, commonly owned resource, but the public remains detached from discussions and decisions.
This process works just fine when water is in abundance. In times of crisis, however, we must demand that planning for California’s water security be an honest, transparent and forward-looking process. Most important, we must make sure that there is in fact a plan.
In short, a commonly owned resource, meaning state-owned, must be separated from the price system. A task force of experts can then formulate a plan to hand over permanent control — sustainable — over the resource to permanent committees. This is what the public — one third of the voters — want.
Meanwhile, the public has only only one option to rationing: pray for rain. Not on the water table: a price system.
California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
For a bureaucrat, there are two choices: pray or submit to lifetime bureaucracy. The price system is never an option.
If the price system is not an option, then I recommend prayer rather than bureaucracy. A prayer might be answered with abundance. With bureaucracy, abundance is never an option.