Today I received an e-newsletter appeal from Senator Boxer asking that I conserve water because of the current drought in California. It's admirable that our members of Congress are joining local and State government efforts to reduce water consumption. But there has always been an underbelly to our efforts to reduce per capita water use during droughts.
Below is my response to the Senator through her web site. If I receive anything other than an automatic robo-reply, I'll add it to this post at that time.
Recently, a insightful letter was published in the San Jose Mercury News. It was a short but powerful statement. It said "I'll believe there is a drought when they stop issuing building permits."
I have spent 35 years in water management, 23 as an elected member of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.I have watched this District surcharge water rates so current residents pay for water systems that will be used to serve future growth, while discounting agricultural rates 90% to farmers, until they sell to developers and make millions on the land that many would like to keep in production as a local food supply.
I have been through several droughts and have watched businesses and residents respond to both voluntary and mandatory rationing. Despite all these admirable responses, people did notice that building permits continued to be issued without any concern for the shrinking water supply. Because public entities are often separated between land use agencies and water agencies, there is no nexus to control this problem.
If you want public support for achieving more water use efficiency, I would suggest that you work with the California legislature to find other ways to pay for the State's future growth than on the backs of its current residents and businesses, many of whom have already reduced their per capita water use to minimal levels.