Apr
29
2015

California’s class-based water woes.

If you can put aside for the moment the New York Times’ stubborn use of the “farmers use 80% of the water in California” canard*, this article isn’t too bad. It certainly notes the deep class divisions that are taking place in the state.  To put it simply: the rich buy their way out of the restrictions and everybody else… can’t.

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity. The daily water consumption rate was 572.4 gallons per person in Cowan Heights from July through September 2014, the hot and dry summer months California used to calculate community-by-community water rationing orders; it was 63.6 gallons per person in Compton during that same period.

I will be fair: Jerry Brown is trying to hammer down Cowan Heights’ water production more than Compton’s. But that’s just elementary riot-avoidance. If people start getting actually thirsty – note: not “has to let the lawn die” or even “can’t bathe every day;” I mean thirsty – and other, richer people still have swimming pools full of water then things will end with large parts of California on fire. Pretty much nothing can break down an existing social system faster than a lack of water.

You will, of course, not be shocked to hear that many people in Cowan Heights (and other equally-affluent parts of California) simply do not understand that landscaping is a luxury, and drinking water is a necessity.  You will also not be shocked to hear that high-water usage areas are spawning lawsuits to keep the government from making them pay on a tiered system (i.e., higher usage means higher rates).  It’s very easy to be cynical about the Californian upper class’s utter hypocrisy about such things; after all, we’ve seen plenty of examples of it by now.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*That factoid ignores the 50% of water that gets dumped into the ocean because fundamentalist Greenies hate human civilization.

6 Comments

  • JustDave says:

    > drought that is gripping the West

    This seems oddly non-specific given that California and western Oklahoma seem to be the only areas that seem to be in (or on the verge of) crisis mode right now.

    .

    Is it cynical of me to imagine that for a lot of NYT readers, “the west” means anything the other side of the Appalachians?

  • mojo says:

    You have to let water flow through the delta, no doubt. But not such a high percentage, because of an escaped bait fish. That’s crazy.

    And tell the richey-rich’s to lose the pools. They can pump them out onto the lawns, if they want, but no refilling. Helicopter enforced, heavy fines, jail time.

    Thirdly, LA, catch some water, wouldya? Keeerist…

  • BJM says:

    Farmers my ass…as the drought worsens investor groups continue planting thousands of acres in almonds for export and drilling massive wells.
    .
    Leaving rural homeowners, small farmers and ranchers with a grim situation as wells go dry and irrigation water deliveries are curtailed or severely reduced.
    .
    A key lower reservoir in the Sierra catchment storage system, Tulloch Lake, will be drained by July to pulse the Stanislaus River for the Federally mandated fish runs and unless the drought breaks next winter, there will be little to no water in the higher New Melones Dam available as they are already talking about a “dead pool” situation where the reservoir is too low to generate electricity or pump water. That’s when things will get very interesting hereabouts as 300-500,000 residents rely on these reservoirs for drinking water.
    .
    Look, I’ve nothing against the fish runs when we have water, salmon are very tasty, but draining Tulloch Lake for fish runs in a severe drought is criminally stupid. The damned fish may be high & dry next year, so someone needs to pull their big boy pants on and put people first now.
    .
    Another blue state success story brought to us by Gov Moonbeam.

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