Southern California Already Feeling Burden of Jerry Brown’s Water Mandate

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Southern Californians on notice of Governor Brown’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 “politically driven” 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 — that previously went to farmers and urban areas — 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, “That’s enough water for three million households and enough water to irrigate 600,000 acres of farmland.”

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, “Just one acre-foot can provide for two average households a year.”

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.

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