Leading scientific and policy experts convened at the California Drought and Water Policy Forum and the Legislative Roundtable On Rethinking California Water Policy to discuss the future of California’s water policies during the ongoing historic drought. General consensus was for sweeping regulatory changes and ongoing conservation efforts that don’t cut big businesses a break. On many topics, however, the panelists were divided.
The discussion was hosted by the RAND Corporation at their Santa Monica headquarters. The RAND Corporation think-tank regularly hosts public events to inform the general populous as to the scientific realities that should guide policy and lawmaking both locally and nationally. The four featured speakers highlighted necessary water resource management methods and the necessity of government agencies to plan ahead for crises such as the current drought.
Three experts from various backgrounds joined David Groves Codirector of the RAND Water and Climate Resilience Center onstage to discuss the dire situation in California. In addition to David Groves, the panelists consisted of Paula Daniels the Founder of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and a Member of the California Water Commission, Tim Quinn the Executive Director of the Association of California Water Agencies, and Paul Wagner the President of the California Farm Bureau Federation.
It was clear during the discussion that the experts don’t see any significant impact that El Niño could have on the drought. While many news outlets build up this year’s El Niño and speculate that a strong rainy season could solve the drought, members of the panel enforced the facts: This drought is severe, and no weather event can replenish the nearly dry reservoirs. And even the rainfall itself is purely conjecture, David Groves points out.
Paul Wagner discussed the political difficulties associated with dealing with the drought. Even if El Niño hits where it should land, California isn’t piped to deal with flooding and excessive rainfall in Southern California. The model for water sales in California revolves around Northern California’s mountain ranges providing the water supply for the state. Southern California actively tries to dispel drought concerns, which complicates efforts from Northern California to unite the state in concrete steps toward water conservation through policy changes.
Those who believe the drought will continue may help encourage long-term policy changes. Paula Daniels detailed a fundamental shift that the drought is causing. Legislation like the Sustainable Ground Water Management Act forces farmers, companies, and citizens alike to assess what they’re putting into the ground and how they can minimize water waste. With wells drying up and ground water going scarce, new innovations are necessary to keep agriculture alive in the vital Central California valley.
Policy changes are being implemented across California. Voters need to do their part to raise awareness and proactively get involved in conservation and regulation movements in the wake of the drought. Minimize water waste in your home by ditching plastic bottles and switching to washable, refillable Pelican Water on-the-go bottles. You can also take the extra step by taking advantage of these simple ways to conserve water here. Drought awareness is all about turning information into action.