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The Abundance Choice (part 2) – The Problems With Indoor Water Rationing

Perhaps the biggest example of misguided water policy in California are the escalating restrictions on indoor water consumption. As will be seen, the savings these restrictions amount to are trivial in the context of California’s total water consumption, yet are imposed at tremendous cost both in quality of life and in the required economic sacrifice. Despite alternatives that are objectively more cost-effective, California’s water policy continues to go down the path of rationing indoor water use.

In 2018 the California Legislature enacted laws to restrict residential water consumption, in the form of Senate Bill 606 and Assembly Bill 1668. For urban water districts, the laws “establish a standard of 55 gallons per person per day until January 2025, and then to 50 gallons per person per day in 2030.”

It is fair to point out that some of the more alarmist reactions to these mandates are unfounded. For example, the laws will only measure aggregate use within a water district, which means that how individual users are treated if they exceed the per person indoor water limits is left up to the local utilities. That’s hardly reassuring, but at least it leaves some wiggle room. On the other hand, it creates a powerful disincentive for water agencies to invest in developing an increased, more resilient water supply, because with aggregate maximums limiting how much water the agencies can sell, they’ll think twice before adding capacity. One of the dangerous consequences of this, yet again, is a system […] Read More

How Unions Can Help ALL Workers

Last month on January 5, Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez resigned from the legislature to join the California Labor Federation. Gonzalez is likely to succeed the current Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski when he retires this summer. What will this mean for the labor movement in California?

Gonzalez has earned a controversial reputation in the State Assembly, partly by virtue of the legislation she’s sponsored, and partly by her Trumpian penchant for lobbing polarizing Tweets at her political opponents. But when Gonzalez takes the helm of the most powerful labor organization in California, as is expected, will the weight of the job moderate her political priorities?

It’s common for right-of-center politicians to criticize unions, and it’s worth repeating some of these criticisms. Public sector unions have an agenda that is inherently in conflict with the public interest, since the interests of their membership – more jobs, better pay and benefits – may be served regardless of whether or not public services are operated efficiently and effectively. They divert public funds out of public employee paychecks to wage campaigns to elect the politicians with whom they supposedly then “negotiate” labor agreements. The agencies they represent don’t have to compete for customers or make a profit, they can just raise taxes. Civil service laws offer ample protection to public employees, and voluntary associations that don’t engage in collective bargaining would still provide plenty of political leverage for public employees. Public sector unions should probably be illegal.

As for private sector unions, on the […] Read More

Proposed ballot measure would create water infrastructure

Silicon Valley is known for its startup culture where so-called angel investors provide financing to launch companies that aspire to change the world.

Innovations spawned in Silicon Valley have indeed changed the world, and in the process, made the San Francisco Bay Area home to thousands of near-billionaires and billionaires.

With wealth like that comes social responsibility and political power, and many of the individuals wielding this wealth have stepped up. Powerful individuals from Silicon Valley are changing the destiny of the world.

Might not the world’s destiny be improved if there was abundant water, everywhere? Shouldn’t California set an example to the world, instead of accepting a future of water scarcity and rationing?

The More Water Now campaign was formed to qualify the Water Infrastructure Funding Act to appear as a state ballot initiative in November. Nearly every expert in California agrees that more water infrastructure is necessary; that conservation alone will not protect Californians from the impact of climate change. Projects to capture storm runoff and recycle urban wastewater are urgently needed, and this initiative provides the funding to get it done.

Nonetheless, the campaign finds itself in the inexplicable position of having a solution everyone wants, but nobody wants to pay to qualify it for the ballot.

Private sector construction unions, who could enlist hundreds of thousands of their members to sign petitions, are hesitant to take on the environmentalist lobby. Construction contractors have deep pockets, but don’t want to see environmental activists target them […] Read More

California Needs an Angel to Promote New Infrastructure to Harvest the Rain

It’s raining again in California. In fact, it’s pouring. But nearly all that water, tens of millions of acre-feet, is running into the ocean. California has a water system built for 20 million people. Neglected and failing and strained to the brink, it nonetheless now serves a state of nearly 40 million people.

The conventional wisdom in California impels politicians to build nothing, attribute water scarcity to climate change, and limit household water consumption to 50 gallons per person per day. It impels them to redefine “infrastructure” as redistribution of wealth in order to achieve “equity,” while castigating actual infrastructure as an unwarranted consumer of planet-destroying energy and a stain on sacred ecosystems.

This is a scam. Saving the planet may be the supposed moral imperative behind policies that create scarcity, but the true motivation is power and greed. In reality, imposing scarcity is a convenient way to consolidate political power and economic resources in the hands of existing elites, who hope and expect the multitudes will assuage their downward mobility with online Soma.

Genuine infrastructure creates opportunities for everyone. Neglecting public infrastructure—the real kind, i.e., water, energy, and transportation assets—is itself regressive. The wealthy don’t care if their water bills or their electricity bills triple. Corporate monopolists benefit when basic utility inputs triple in price, because it kills the emerging competition which increases their market share. This is an elemental truth that everyone from John Steinbeck to Ayn Rand warned us about. But the progressives in California ignore it, […] Read More

God Sent the Rain, But We Need an Angel to Build the Infrastructure to Manage It

If Californians are to avoid a future where they have to endure permanent water rationing because of inadequate water infrastructure, a few members of the economic elite will have to break with the pack. As it is, in the wealthiest, most innovative place on earth, ordinary citizens are being conditioned to accept algorithmically monitored lives of scarcity, supposedly to save the planet. But in reality, scarcity is a convenient way to consolidate political power and economic resources in the hands of existing elites, who count on the multitudes to assuage their downward mobility with online Soma.

So who will break with the pack? Who will be an Angel? For a few million dollars, a sum that any one of California’s hundreds of mega millionaires might throw down the way normal people buy a latte, an initiative to fund water infrastructure could be placed on the ballot. This, at least, would give Californians a choice.

The More Water Now campaign was formed earlier this year to qualify the Water Infrastructure Funding Act to appear as a state ballot initiative in November 2022. Virtually every expert in California agrees that more water infrastructure is necessary, that conservation alone cannot guarantee a reasonable and reliable water supply to Californians, much less cope with climate change. Projects to capture storm runoff and recycle urban wastewater are urgently needed, and this initiative would provide the funding to get it done.

Nonetheless, the campaign finds itself offering a solution […] Read More

California Needs More Water Now

AUDIO: California’s water infrastructure was built in the 1950s and 1960s to supply water to a state with a population of 20 million. Today, with nearly 40 million people living in California, the state’s neglected water system lacks the capacity to cope with multi-year droughts. California must invest in a new water system for the 21st century. Edward Ring with Bryan Miller on Nation State of Play.

https://anchor.fm/nation-state-of-play/episodes/Edward-Ring—California-Needs-More-Water-Now-e1bnjns

Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.

edwardring.com

San Jose Mercury Editorial Reflects Zero Sum Mentality About Water

Perhaps to atone for an article they’d published a few days earlier, which offered a balanced report on our effort to qualify a ballot measure to fund and fast track construction of water supply infrastructure in California, the San Jose Mercury on November 19 published a blistering editorial that condemned the initiative. But the editorial makes unfounded claims, cherry picks its facts, and caters to extremist versions of environmentalism.

For starters, the proposed “Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022” is not merely a product of “Central Valley Republicans and Big Ag backers.” It is supported by a bipartisan and growing coalition of Democrats and Republicans, water agencies, cities, counties, business associations, community groups, construction workers, homebuilders and environmentalists that need the state to invest in water supply projects.

The editorial claims that more water for farmers – to grow food, we might add – “comes at the expense of urban users and the state’s fragile environment.” This reflects a zero sum, conflict mentality that is completely out of character with California’s heritage and culture. More water projects mean more water available for wetlands, more water available for the Delta ecosystems, and more opportunities to manage chronic droughts and climate change. And, to state what ought to be obvious, more water projects also means less imported food, and more affordable food.

What the San Jose Mercury’s editorial reflects is part of a broader malaise. It reflects a commitment to scarcity and rationing as the solution to environmental challenges, instead […] Read More

“More water now” is much needed in California

AUDIO: The challenge of water scarcity in California is often framed as a battle between farmers and urban users. But it doesn’t to have to be a zero sum game. Either via action by the state legislature, or through a citizen’s ballot initiative, California can build new systems to capture, store, distribute, treat, and reuse more water. Rationing is not inevitable. Edward Ring with Trent Loos on Rural Route Radio.

https://anchor.fm/nation-state-of-play/episodes/Edward-Ring—California-Needs-More-Water-Now-e1bnjns

Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.

edwardring.com

Fixing California – Part Three, Achieving Water Abundance

As Californians face another drought, the official consensus response is more rationing. Buy washers that don’t work very well. Install more flow restrictors. Move down from a 50 gallon per person, per day limit for indoor water consumption to 40 gallons per person per day. For California’s farmers, recent legislation has not only lowered what percentage of river flow can be diverted to agriculture, but now also restricts groundwater pumping. The impact is regressive, with consequences ranging from petty and punitive to catastrophic and existential.

Wealthy homeowners pay the fines and water their lawns, while ordinary citizens are forced to obsess over every drop. Corporate farm operations navigate the countless regulatory agencies while family farmers are driven insolvent. And the worse it gets, the more the story stays the same: We have wasted water, destroyed ecosystems, and now we must embrace an era of limits. But this is a perilous path.

Maybe the consensus model of water management in California works for corporations that want to consolidate the agricultural industry. Maybe it benefits developers who want to build apartments with no yards, where the interiors are equipped with “water sipping” (lousy) appliances. Maybe the public utilities prefer a model where they don’t have to build new infrastructure because per capita consumption is driven down. Maybe the “smart growth” advocates for “infill” love the idea they can sell high density more easily because if everyone uses half as much water, twice as many households can […] Read More

SoCal Desalination Plant Inches Towards Approval

In a rare and commendable display of political courage and common sense, California Governor Gavin Newsom has been working to finally grant permits to construct a second major seawater desalination plant on the Southern California Coast.

But don’t count on this new water source just yet. Despite clearing major hurdles, the “environmentalists” and their allies in the media are not going to quit.

In a predictably slanted hatchet job, poorly disguised as an investigative report, the Los Angeles Times is doing everything it can to derail the project. According to their February 26 article, “environmentalists” have serious concerns about the proposed plant, set to be constructed in Huntington Beach and using a similar design to one already successfully operating about 60 miles south in Carlsbad. But why are the only environmentalists used as sources for supposedly objective journalists the ones that disparage desalination?

Here are some of the problems that “environmentalists,” who purport to speak for everyone who cares about the environment, have with the proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Quoting from the LA Times article:

“Though the Huntington Beach facility meets the state goal of diversifying California’s water supply, it would undermine other environmental policies. The plant would require large amounts of electricity; it would sit next to a rising sea; and it would continue the use of huge ocean intakes harmful to microscopic marine life.”

These objections are easily answered. Every drop of water that is produced by the plant is water that […] Read More