Southern Californians on notice of Governor Brownâ€™s unprecedented 25% water reduction mandate now face 15% water delivery cutbacks. Rate hikes have been suggested as a possible, although heavy handed, measure.
Cutbacks are being instituted in light of a prolonged California drought. The state has seen many droughts, but some are pointing to overbearing regulations and environmentalist activism for man-made aspects of the water shortage that could be remedied.
The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) instituting the cuts approved the move in a vote Tuesday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Cutbacks are slated to begin July 1 and could last a year. Two dozen member agencies will reportedly be charged an astounding four times regular rates for seeking additional water. This cost would come to $1,480 to $2,960 per acre-foot.
State Assemblymember Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) points out a $1.5 billion drought cost to agriculture in a video released in early April. In the video, Grove speaks with farmers, one of which points to a more â€œpolitically drivenâ€ amplification of the current drought.
Grove goes on to point out that the 1973 Endangered Species Act caused state agencies to force waters from the Sacramento and San Jouquin Rivers â€” that previously went to farmers and urban areas â€” out to sea to protect the 3-in Delta Smelt. She cites 1.2 million acre feet of water being flushed out to sea this year alone. Grove states, â€œThatâ€™s enough water for three million households and enough water to irrigate 600,000 acres of farmland.â€
MWD is expected to cut 300,000 acre-feet of water under the new plan. A more extreme 20% reduction option was also considered. The Review-Journal notes, â€œJust one acre-foot can provide for two average households a year.â€
The burden of achieving lower usage is hefted onto retailers under the threat of fines, reports the Review-Journal. Water district officials will have to decide whether consumers will then bear the weight of higher costs in order to force users to use less.