California Water Facts for Legislators

Everyone in California agrees that water policies need to adapt to changing times. There is even growing agreement that enforcing draconian reductions to farm water allocations (which will eliminate all but the most powerful corporate agribusinesses) and outlawing household outdoor watering will not only fail to solve the problem, but is a tough and undesirable solution. And so the debate over more rationing versus more water supply projects goes on.

Missing from the debate over water policy in California, however, especially among the state legislators who need to do something about it, are some basic overall metrics regarding how much water we need, what various types of water projects cost, how much potential capacity each type of project delivers, and how much energy is involved. Here’s a summary.

When quantifying macro variables of this nature, first it is important to note that for any project category, costs are not uniform. A wastewater recycling plant, for example, will cost more to construct and more to operate depending on the type of wastewater it has to process. The cost to build and operate a conveyance to deliver water from a recycling plant or desalination plant direct to the consumer or to a storage facility will vary depending on the length of the conveyance and any necessary elevation changes. So these are rough numbers. They are nonetheless vital to begin a more informed discussion of water policy options in California.

The primary measurement used to describe large amounts of water are units of […] Read More

How the Scarcity Agenda Benefits Oligopolies

AUDIO: How financial speculators benefit from politics designed to create scarcity, and how environmentalism is used as the moral justification for scarcity policies. Edward Ring with Kara McKinney on OANN’s Tipping Point.

Foreign Firms Siphoning Water From America’s Southwest

Edward Ring

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.

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While California Dries out and Burns, Bureaucrats Hype Diversity

A few months ago, a friend of mine in the water business participated in a lunchtime seminar in Sacramento on the topic of how to increase diversity in the water industry. Being a civil engineer, he thought the discussion would focus on how to develop diverse sources of water in a drought stricken state. Instead, as he later related to me with refreshing clarity, “the whole event was about how to get rid of white men.”

The man who hosted this event was Wade Crowfoot, who enjoyed media adulation in 2020 when he reportedly challenged President Trump on the science of climate change. Trump, who was being briefed by California state officials on the wildfires ravaging the state that summer, had said “It’ll just start getting cooler, you just watch.” Crowfoot responded, “I wish science agreed with you.”

When it comes to who’s running California, there’s nothing unique about Wade Crowfoot. In California, reducing the percentage of white men in any position of responsibility and hyping the “climate emergency” are behavioral prerequisites for any ambitious public servant. But to hear them endlessly parrot these themes can be quite frustrating, since it deflects attention away from their poor job performance.

Crowfoot’s portfolio includes management of California’s forests, which have suffered catastrophic fires in recent years. But the reason these fires have burned with such unprecedented ferocity is not primarily due to heat waves and drought, but due to appalling mismanagement, for which we have hostile bureaucrats and environmentalist extremists […] Read More

California’s Water Mismanagement

As Californians cope with another blistering summer during what is their third consecutive year of drought, the state legislature has still done nothing of substance to upgrade California’s water supply infrastructure. From the Klamath Basin on the Oregon border to the Imperial Valley on the Mexican border, farmers can’t irrigate their crops, and in every major city, residents are having their access to water rationed.

Not only is California’s state legislature and various state and federal agencies failing to invest in new water infrastructure, but they are actively undermining attempts to deliver more water to the state’s residents. In May, the California Coastal Commission denied a permit to Poseidon Water to build a desalination plant that would have produced 60,000 acre feet of water per year.

If desalination is the irredeemable problem child of water infrastructure according to environmentalists, surface reservoirs are its evil cousin. Hence the proposed Sites Reservoir, which would provide another 1.5 million acre feet of badly needed storage capacity, still faces what may be insurmountable odds: the requirement to allocate half of its yield to ecosystems means the remaining water the Sites Project Authority will be permitted to sell to cites and farmers may not be sufficient to qualify the project for construction loan guarantees.

The environmentalist assault on California’s water enabled civilization, unchallenged by the state legislature, is full spectrum. On the Klamath River, with an urgency that is entirely missing with respect to constructing the Sites Reservoir, or any other reservoirs, plans to remove […] Read More

The Abundance Choice (part 8) – The Union Factor

The moment we met Robbie Hunter, then president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council, we knew we were in the presence of a man who does not lose. Assemblyman Mathis had urged me to contact the construction unions before we finished our research to write the initiative and began an actual campaign, and through one of his mutual contacts, the meeting was arranged.

Three of us arrived at the SBCTC’s offices in downtown Sacramento back in August 2021, all of us dressed in our Sunday best; suits, ties, dress shoes. Hunter met us in their lobby, dressed like a man who does real work, wearing a t-shirt with a union logo on the front. As someone without experience meeting a union president, much less negotiating with one, Hunter, a burly man with a trace of an Irish accent, fit the stereotype I’d imagined. And that first meeting was encouraging.

We quickly learned that Hunter and his colleagues were very much in favor of more water infrastructure. They were interested in learning about our proposal and willing to assist with the language. Over the next several weeks we carefully included language that would protect the interests of this union, which has 450,000 members in California.

While nobody on our steering committee had any objection to us reaching out to work with a powerful private sector labor union, we had friends in the conservative community who were going to want an explanation. It wasn’t hard to provide one. All […] Read More

The Abundance Choice (part 7) – An Environmentalist Juggernaut

Environmentalists in California, who constitute much of the vanguard of environmentalism in the world, have normalized extremism. The solutions they’ve proposed to supposedly save the planet, and the premises they’ve convinced millions of people to accept as beyond debate, constitute one of the greatest threats – if not the greatest threat – to modern civilization today. It is these environmentalists that are themselves the extremists, not the common sense skeptics who question their edicts, or the beleaguered citizens trying to survive their mandates.

The power of the environmentalist juggernaut, or, to be more precise, what has become an environmentalist industrial complex, almost defies description. Their grip on the media, as we have seen in the previous installment, is near absolute. They exercise similar control over how American children are educated in K-12 public schools, as well as what messages are reinforced in almost every institution of higher learning. They have coopted nearly every major corporation, investment bank, hedge fund, sovereign wealth fund, and international institution including the World Bank, the United Nations, and countless others. From every source, the message is always the same: We face imminent doom if we don’t take dramatic collective action immediately to cope with the “climate emergency.”

The good news is that if you want to build more water infrastructure in California, you don’t have to argue the intricacies of climate science. If the Sierra snowpack is to be permanently reduced if not nonexistent, and if all we can expect in a drier future are […] Read More

The Abundance Choice (part 6) – Biased, Hostile Media

You can say this for Michael Hiltzik, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times columnist for the Los Angeles Times: He doesn’t conceal his biases. When we talked in late November, his skepticism concerning our initiative felt overt. And while that may only have been my subjective impression of our conversation, Hiltzik’s column, published as a “Perspective” piece by the Times on December 2, removed all doubt.

Hiltzik’s column was called “This proposed ballot measure would make you pay for the ag industry’s water inefficiency,” and featured on page two of the print edition’s front section. Hiltzik fired an 1,800-word salvo at our campaign, making assertions, starting with the title, that were designed from beginning to end to convince readers that we were pushing a terrible idea.

In one of the opening paragraphs, Hiltzik wrote “In California, water is for scamming. The newest example is a majestically cynical ploy being foisted on taxpayers by some of the state’s premier water hogs, in the guise of a proposed ballot measure titled the ‘Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022’—or, as its promoters call it, the More Water Now initiative.” Nothing subtle there.

Hiltzik’s hits came one after another. He called the initiative “costly and dishonest,” claiming it would “wreak permanent damage to the state budget,” and “force taxpayers to pay for ecologically destructive and grossly uneconomical dams, reservoirs, and desalination plants.”

But Hiltzik’s bias against “wasteful and overly costly projects” may violate his own principles.

In an irony that ought not be […] Read More

The Abundance Choice (part 3) – The Mechanics of Ballot Initiatives

By the spring of 2021, it was obvious the state legislature was not going to change its inadequate approach to water policy. As the state faced another year of drought, restricting water use was the only solution being taken seriously in Sacramento. And at the same time as cities were being told to prepare to ration water, farmers faced new regulations restricting not only how much water they could divert from rivers, but also how much groundwater they could pump.

For this reason, and after talking with people all over California whose businesses and jobs depended on a reliable water supply, I decided to form a group of volunteers to promote a ballot initiative that would focus on funding projects to increase California’s supply of water. The tentative name for our campaign, which we eventually adopted, was More Water Now.

The potential for initiatives to fundamentally change the political landscape in California is well documented. The now legendary Prop. 13, approved by voters in 1978, is the classic example. Prop. 13 limited property tax reassessments to two percent per year. And thanks to Prop. 13, if you own your home long enough, eventually property taxes become a manageable burden, instead of an inevitable eviction notice. California is one of 15 U.S. states that allow citizens to gather signatures from registered voters and qualify both statutes and amendments for their state ballot. But to say this is not easy is an understatement.

In California, petitions proposing initiative statutes […] Read More

Creating Water Abundance in California

AUDIO/VIDEO: Is water scarcity and water rationing inevitable in California? Is it the only moral and practical choice? Or can a balance be struck between practical conservation measures and new investments in infrastructure that will increase the annual supply of water and guarantee there will never be a shortages – 24 minute Epoch Times interview – Edward Ring with host Siyamak Khorrami on California Insider.

Edward Ring

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.

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