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🗣️ "Does California Deserve All the Drought Shaming?"

The Future of Water

Photo by Corey Agopian / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Reese Tisdale | President & Co-Founder | Bluefield Research
Category: 🗣️ Opinion

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[1:01] “The World Economic Forum listed the water crisis as the fifth biggest risk in its Global Risks Report in 2020. It's been in the top five for 9-10 years running. But this is only behind climate action failure, […] weapons of mass destruction, […] biodiversity loss, and […] extreme weather. And that would make five being water crisis but all but one have a direct link to water.”

[3:12] “I started the day by reading an article in the New York Times […] “Can California start taking drought seriously?”[…] Not sure it's really fair. In fact, I think there are some things that the rest of the country could learn from California. So just to put things in perspective, 93% of the southwest and California is in drought, and close to 40% of the region is in an extreme drought.”

[4:02] “California’s governor Newsom has declared a drought emergency in 41 of the 58 counties in the state. Why? Because 1500 of the state's reservoirs are at […] 50% of average levels. And it's early, the rainy season only ended a couple months ago. The state's previous drought lasted roughly seven years from December 2011 to March 2019.”

[4:46] “Drought disasters should not be overlooked as some of the most costly according to the US National Centers for Environmental Information. Drought damage runs at an average of about $9.3 billion in damage. […] But […] solutions do exist.”

[5:44] “As for water, […] there's enough water […] as long as people, companies and organizations quit pouring it down the drain. […] The water reuse pipeline in the US scaled to more than 630 municipal projects […], of [which] almost half of them are in California. […] About 67% of the $36 billion forecasted to be spent on water reuse will be in California. This is municipal reuse, not just for direct potable and indirect potable reuse, but it's also for irrigation and it's not really industrial either.”

[7:01] “As for water sources, […] look no further than the Pacific Ocean. […] Desalination […] plants like Carlsbad, […] or Huntington Beach, which is still in process [are part of the answer]. […] It's the most expensive water out there, but [it is a solution], where water is not being fully utilized and it is available. […] And it's a relatively near term solution, as opposed to rebuilding the entire power generation fleet to minimize carbon in the US, let alone the rest of the world.”

[8:23] “During the last drought, the governor set a conservation goal of 25% to stave off over usage of water supplies in the state of California. Even before the last drought, per capita water use had already declined significantly from […] 231 gallons per day in 1990 […] in California, to 231 gallons per day to 180 gallons per day in 2010. So that's a significant gain in water management, water usage, which is much needed or was much needed. And it was done through pricing incentives and mandatory installation of water conservation solutions and technologies. But also by 2015 per capita use fell even further to about 146 gallons per day because of these conservation targets.”

[10:07] “The other thing that came out of that last drought was in 2014, the state also passed the Groundwater Management Act, which was legislation requiring the monitoring of groundwater basins and also just developing plans to protect or stay on top of the groundwater levels and availability. Not a whole lot seems to have happened to that. […] But […] it's moving in the right direction, […] definitely not fast enough, given that we are heading into another extreme drought.”

[11:26] “In periods of tight water supplies, the price of water should rise naturally based on supply and demand. So […] the role of financial players buying up water rights is a concern, particularly if it's unregulated or unmonitored. But that being said, they could indirectly spur innovation through by increasing the value of water, or at least putting $1 on the gallon or acre foot […]. So […] this could be manifested through more advanced drip irrigation, so advanced agricultural solutions and technologies that would also would include things like satellite imagery for agriculture, […] digital monitoring of groundwater, […] [as well as] on site treatment, and decentralized reuse. Those are things that there's been a lot of talk about, [but] it hasn't scaled […] to the extent we […] would hope.”

[14:35] “This shouldn't be a surprise […]. If you look at the news, whether it be the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, any trade organization newsletter, everybody's panicking about California. They should be panicking about California, but they should have been panicking about in 2014 because […] this [wasn’t] the last drought that's going to come. […] There's a lot to be learned from California. They've been efficient in many ways. […] It seems to be the punching bag for the rest of the country, but the West is a pretty big place and there's a lot to be learned not just for the rest of the US, but also for the rest of the world.”

Rating: 💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify
🕰️ 18 min | 🗓️ 06/29/2021
✅ Time saved: 16 min

Additional Links:
Bluefield Research Newsletter: Waterline