Creating Water Abundance in California

“And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither: for they shall be healed; and every thing shall live whither the river cometh.” Ezekiel 47:9

Water is Life. For as long as there has been civilization, access to water has been an unyielding prerequisite. California is no exception. As its population grew, the state built one of the most remarkable systems of interbasin water transfers in the world. Every year, nearly 40 million acre feet of water is diverted from remote rivers and transported to magnificent coastal cities or used to irrigate rich farmland. But the whole system needs to be upgraded for the 21st century.

Here are some water projects that ought to be moving forward in California:

(1) Desalination at scale: There is only one major desalination plant in California, located just north of San Diego. At a total project cost of just over $1.0 billion, the Carlsbad Desalination Project went into operation in 2015 and desalinates 55 thousand acre feet of water per year. Desalination has the unique virtue of being an inexhaustible supply of fresh water. Every other water source, ultimately, depends on how much rain we get. In combination with wastewater recycling, building several more large desalination plants could enable California’s coastal cities to become nearly independent of imported water. Potential sites for their construction are already […] Read More

California’s Legislature is Making the Water Crisis Worse

AUDIO: A discussion about why California’s legislature and bureaucracy is determined to dismantle water infrastructure and ways we can fight back: – Edward Ring on the Steel on Steel Show with John Loeffler. 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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The Abundance Choice (part 15) – Our Fight for More Water

There are plenty of ways to ration water, and California’s state legislature is pursuing all of them. Restrict agricultural water allocations until millions of acres of California’s irrigated farmland is taken out of production. Ban outdoor watering entirely in urban areas. Monitor residential indoor water use and lower it to 40 gallons per day per resident, with heavy fines to urban water agencies that cannot enforce those restrictions. But this is a lose-lose proposition, wreaking economic havoc and diminishing the quality of life for all Californians.

The initiative we came up with and attempted to qualify for the November 2022 ballot acknowledged the importance of conservation, but focused on supply. Passage of this initiative would have eliminated water scarcity in California. Looking to the next two year election cycle, the latest possible filing date for a new attempt to place an initiative on the November 2024 ballot is September 2023. A smarter approach would be to file an initiative around March 2023 in order to be gathering signatures from late spring through early fall in 2023. That would avoid competition with other political campaigns that promise to overwhelm 2024, and it would allow signature gatherers to approach voters who are likely to be enduring a second consecutive summer with the most severe restrictions on water use they have ever experienced.

The sad reality however is these plans are worthless without either access to millions of dollars in donations, or a volunteer movement with unprecedented scale and unity. But building a […] Read More

The Abundance Choice (part 14) – Infinite Abundance

From the inaugural Stanford Digital Economy Lab gathering in April 2022, noted venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson posted the following quote to Facebook: “Our goal is to usher in an era of infinite abundance.”

“Infinite abundance.”

This phrase epitomizes the ongoing promise of California’s tech culture. Despite every political shortcoming California may suffer, its technology sector continues to set the pace for the rest of the world. “Infinite abundance,” evocative of an earlier tech mantra “better, faster, cheaper,” is not only a defining aspiration of tech entrepreneurs, it is closer to being realized every day.

So why is it that Californians can’t generate abundant electric power? Why is it that Californians can’t figure out how to deliver abundant water? And how does a future of rationed, scarce energy and water square with the dreams of infinite abundance that inspire every one of California’s high tech entrepreneurs and investors? And insofar as the political clout of California’s high tech sector gives it almost infinite influence, when will its high-tech innovators confront this paradox?

For almost every significant resource of consequence to normal working families – energy, water, transportation, housing, and food – ordinary Californians have been betrayed by their elected officials. Everything is running out. Everything costs too much. But when Californians realize that the punitive cost-of-living they’ve endured was the result of poor political choices, and not an inevitable “new normal” they will need to be presented with alternative policies.

Somewhere between the grenade throwing pundit who persuasively condemns […] Read More

The Abundance Choice (part 11) – The Desalination Option

On May 12, the California Coastal Commission Board of Directors voted 11-0 to deny the application from Poseidon Water to build a desalination plant in Huntington Beach. Since 1998, Poseidon has spent over $100 million on design and permit work for this plant. At least half of that money was spent on seemingly endless studies and redesigns as the Coastal Commission and other agencies continued to change the requirements. Poseidon’s denial makes it very unlikely another construction contractor will ever attempt to build a large scale desalination plant on the California coast.

This is a historic mistake. If you’re trying to eliminate water scarcity, desalination is an option you can’t ignore. Desalination has the unique virtue of relying on a literally inexhaustible feedstock, the world’s vast and salty oceans. At an estimated total volume of 1.1 quadrillion acre feet (1.1 billion million acre feet), there will always be enough ocean.

A balanced appraisal of desalination would acknowledge its potential while also recognizing the absurdity of suggesting it is a panacea. On one hand, desalination can be an indispensable solution to water scarcity. In Israel, for example, five massive desalination plants on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea produce nearly a half-million acre feet of fresh water per year, an amount the nation plans to double by 2030. Israel’s Sorek Desalination Plant, located a few miles south of Tel Aviv, produces 185,000 acre feet of fresh water per year, from a highly automated operation that […] Read More

We Can Solve California’s Water Crisis

AUDIO: There is an abundance of water if we build the infrastructure to harvest it and process it. We can capture storm runoff, we can recycle wastewater, and we can desalinate water from the ocean. So why don’t we? – 18 minutes on KFI Los Angeles – Edward Ring on the John and Ken Show. 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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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

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

Here is a plan to create more water for California

Former Congressman Tom Campbell’s recent commentary “Why the delay on critical water storage projects,” published on these pages on January 3, criticized the California Water Commission’s ongoing failure to build the water storage projects that were approved by voters in 2014. There is an answer to the concerns raised by Campbell: The Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022, a constitutional initiative proposed for the November 2022 state ballot.

This initiative, currently being circulated for signatures, requires two percent of the state’s general fund be used to construct new water supply projects, and it doesn’t sunset until new projects add five million acre feet per year to the state’s water supply. Two million acre feet per year can come from waste water recycling, another 1 million from conservation programs, and the rest from runoff capture into off-stream reservoirs and aquifers. And to ensure projects are environmentally responsible, it still gives the California Water Commission the final authority over what projects to fund.

Instead of identifying specific projects for funding, this initiative carefully defines eligible projects to include everything that would produce more water, from conservation and water recycling, aquifer recharge, new reservoirs and aqueduct restoration to runoff capture and brackish/ocean water desalination. It also funds remediation projects, such as replacing the pipes in public schools in Los Angeles.

The initiative is attracting broad based and bipartisan support. The centerpiece of the proposed initiative is the requirement to set aside two percent of the state general fund until 5 million […] 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