The nation’s largest economy and most populous state crafts emergency responses in real time
Can modern society reshape its civic institutions, infrastructure, and practices to thrive in an era of water scarcity?
California’s four-year drought — and a fickle El Nino — is a 21st-century test for the state’s 39 million residents, its economy, and its environment. The hottest, driest period in state history is forcing regulators, water managers, farmers, city officials, and ordinary people to take unprecedented measures to ensure an adequate water supply for all.
Our call on Tuesday, August 11th began a three-part exploration of the issues raised by California’s water crises and to place them in a global context.
|Chief Operations Officer, Family Water Alliance|
|Environment Editor, KPCC|
|Managing Director, Milken Institute’s California Center|
|Chair, California State Water Resources Control Board|
|Director, Water Policy Program
University of California, Santa Barbara
California Drought Signals Fundamental Shift to New Water Conditions
Climate change models have long predicted a drying West. In California, the future has arrived.
By Codi Kozacek
Circle of Blue
Dismal snowpack, dry wells, and cracked riverbeds form what could be a regular picture of California’s water reality in the 21st century, according to state water experts who spoke Tuesday at a virtual town hall, hosted by Circle of Blue and Maestro Conference. In a departure from the skepticism that grips much of the rest of the United States, the nation’s most populous state is not debating the veracity of climate change and its consequences. Instead, California is leveraging a potent combination of political will and public support to adapt to the new conditions.
California is enduring the fourth year of a severe and historic drought. Water reserves in major reservoirs lie at record low levels, and some rural communities have run out of water completely. But the state’s leaders—learning from places like Australia—acknowledged the urgency of the situation and realized that droughts of this scale are likely more often in the future.
“Communities are fundamentally realizing — on the state and the urban level — that water is not just going to be free and widely available.”
–Kevin Klowden, managing director
California Center, Milken Institute
“California has gone through numerous droughts in the past, and even in some of the more severe ones, like in the 1970s, there have been attitude changes that last as long as the drought. But generally things have reverted back to normal afterward,” said Kevin Klowden, managing director of the Milken Institute’s California Center in Santa Monica, at the Catalyst: California town hall. “What you’re seeing now is a profound change in which the communities are fundamentally realizing — on the state and the urban level — that water is not just going to be free and widely available.”
California’s response to the drought unfolded in three stages, according to Felicia Marcus, chair of California’s State Water Resources Control Board, who was a presenter in the town hall. First, she said, was to address water conservation by calling for voluntary water-use reductions. When that failed to achieve results, the state enacted mandatory water restrictions for urban water agencies. The state then focused on accelerating water-recycling projects by providing low-cost financing. Finally, managers have turned their attention to reforming the state’s water-rights system, which is currently based on the 19th-century principle of “first-in-time, first-in-right,” meaning those with the oldest water rights take precedence.
“The goals that have guided our response since the beginning of the drought declaration, which was an early drought declaration, were to act earlier than hope might suggest,” Marcus said to the 130 people from around the world who participated in the town hall. “We learned from the Australians that hope is definitely not a strategy, as they kept thinking they were in a three-year drought cycle for about six years, then they hit their three worst years yet and had to throw billions of dollars at everything all at once, including a whole fleet of [desalination] facilities that are sitting shuttered, have never been operated, and [that] they’re still paying for. Our goals were to listen to the Australians and do the cheaper thing first — and above all, to prepare for the worst, though you hope for the best.
“The goals that have guided our response since the beginning of the drought declaration, which was an early drought declaration, were to act earlier than hope might suggest.”
–Felicia Marcus, chair
State Water Resources Control Board
“And finally, to try to find a way to accelerate those actions that we know we have to do anyway in the face of climate change, where all the predictions say we’re going to lose our snowpack as the temperature rises and more precipitation falls as rain rather than snow. We know we’re going to have more people. We also know that food security is going to be an increasing issue around the globe and around the nation, and California is one of the only places with a Mediterranean climate that can reliably grow the level of fruits and vegetables that we can grow.”
Nonetheless, California still faces substantial challenges. Chief among them is the protection of its forested watersheds, which have been ravaged by fires and years of mismanagement, according to Nadine Bailey, chief operations officer of the Maxwell-based Family Water Alliance. Fires are currently burning across northern California, making watersheds vulnerable to erosion — especially if an El Nino weather pattern brings heavy rainstorms, as was widely publicized yesterday in news channels around the country and the world.
“We really need to think about forest management as we talk about water”
–Nadine Bailey, chief operations officer
Family Water Alliance
“That wood that’s burning is our watershed. It’s the place that holds our water during summer and in the winter,” Bailey said at the town hall. “We really need to think about forest management as we talk about water. We need to stop drawing circles around things in an old paradigm to save them and look at an integrative environmental policy that takes people into account and looks down the road 50 to 100 years with our environmental policy to fix some of the mistakes that we’ve made in the last 20 years.”
Another persistent challenge is improving the tools to manage and trade water rights, as well as how to price water in a way that reflects its true costs while maintaining affordability for the most vulnerable communities, according to Robert Wilkinson, the director of the Water Policy Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
“There are definite questions about social equity and how to provide basic amounts of water at a low cost,” he said.
Carl: Hello everyone and welcome to Catalyst where we’re helping redefine water’s future. I’m J. Carl Ganter, Director of Circle of Blue and we have a big task ahead of us not just over the next few hours or few weeks but in the months and years ahead and while we wait for a few others to join us in this conversation today, a quick technical note, if you’re on the web, be sure to log in to the social webinar function to participate fully. The link is in your invitation confirmation email and as a reminder, that’s social.maestroconference, that’s spelled m-a-e-s-t-r-o conference.com, that’s social.maestroconference.com. If you’re only dialed in by phone, of course participating by voice is fine too, you’ll miss some of the visuals. So let’s take just a moment to get to know each other and first you are connecting from around the globe, that’s fun to note, many of you are in California while others are in Colorado, New York, Stockholm, Denmark, Australia, Italy, China and India, across a lot of time zones today. And we’re coming to you today from the studios of Interlock and Public Radio in Michigan and Southern California Public Radio in Pasadena. So we’re going to do a quick poll, we’re going to test out the system while we wait for everybody else to join us and dial in, to see who we’ve got on the call. You can use your keypad on your phone or your caller dashboard on your screen, I would announce the answer, so here’s a couple of simple questions to get you warmed up. If you’re representing an NGO or non-profit, press 1; if you’re a business or farm, press 2; if you are a member of the government regulatory world, press 3; the media press, 4; or just your…on your own, press 5. Again, if you’re representing an NGO or non-profit, press 1; business or farm, press 2; government, press 3; media, press, 4; or yourself, press 5, and we’ll take a look at the numbers, and I’m trying to see exactly what we have here, it looks nicely distributed, heavier on the number 1 which is NGO or non-profit. So it’s a couple of minutes after the hour and hopefully most everyone has dialed in and if you’re just joining us, I’m J. Carl Ganter, Director of Circle of Blue and today we launched another series of conversations critically timed as California, the nation and the world face accelerating water stress. Can California and global society reshape the big institutions, infrastructure and practices to thrive in an area of water scarcity? Well, today we have a terrific line up of guests to help us answer these earthing questions or at least explore them much more deeply. We’re joined by Felicia Marcus who’s the Chair of California State Water Resources Control Board; Nadine Bailey, Chief Operations Officer of the Family Water Alliance; Steven Gregory, Environment Editor at Southern California Public Radio; Kevin Klowden, Managing Director of the California Center at the Milken Institute and Robert Wilkinson who’s the Director of the Water Policy Program at the University of California Santa Barbara. So if you joined us in April you are among really the first to hear about the ramifications of California’s extremely low [Inaudible 01:06:01.04]. In fact the numbers came in during our call, we’re also looking into the future imagining how it dries summer might unfold. Well, today we’re going to hear from you and our expert discussion leaders what has happened since April and then next Tuesday in another session, we’ll talk about adaptation to “new normals” and try to answer the timely question: “Will El Nino save the day?”, in fact, we’ll be watching the new tomorrow for some updated reports and don’t miss Tuesday, August 25th when we’ll be broadcasting live from World Water Week in Stockholm and the One Water Leadership Conference in San Francisco and we’ve also expanded the capacity of these events so please feel free to invite your colleagues and your other networks to participate. So, as many of you know, here at Circle blue we like to ask good questions and we try to spot important trends and we’d like to be on the ground with the best traditions of journalism, science and data collection to understand some of the world’s most complex stories and we’d like to bring people together like you to seek the solutions. So have a look at the results at circleofblue.org, our ongoing coverage and learn more about past and upcoming events like this one in the Catalyst series. And we also want to hear from you during today’s events and the weeks ahead and share your questions and comments via Twitter, use the hash tag cadrought and then again that’s Twitter #cadrought or you can submit your questions via the window on your screen and if you’re not logged in, you can email your questions to email@example.com, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org and you’ll also have the opportunity to discuss these issues live during today’s events, during the unique features of the event provided by MaestroConference which is providing unique technology platform for the series.
Carl: Well now we’re going to jump right in and ask two of our guest to set the California scene for us. And with us today is Kevin Klowden, Director of the California Center at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, California and Steven Gregory, Environment Editor at KPCC, Southern California Public Radio and Pasadena. We’re going to start with Kevin, so Kevin, California is drought it’s not just another water story, it’s an economic and finance story, it’s a policy story even a help story. The theme we’ve been talking about is re balancing, what I’d like you to do is give us a sense from your perspective, how the state, I mean you’re right in the middle of it, how the state is rebalancing on so many levels?
Kevin: Well fundamentally, but thank you very much by the way for having me today, but fundamentally what you’re seeing is that the state is changing a lot of the different attitude it historically had towards water, California has gone through numerous droughts in the past and even some of the more severe ones such as back in the 1970’s. There have been attitude changes that have lasted as long as the drought but generally things have reverted back to normal afterwards. What you’re seeing now is a profound change in which the communities are fundamentally realizing stated urban level that water is not just going to be free and might be available that is not just a matter of not having a water automatically available at your table at a restaurant but a matter of how you build homes, how you build commercial structures with farms it’s a matter of truly investing in everything ranging from water storage to much more efficient irrigation. And it’s changing even our green energy strategies, a number of cities around Central California have been dependent on Local Hydroelectric Power Generation and that of course is suffered dramatically if not disappeared during this period. If even gone so far is to wipe out most of the games from solar installations. So, we’re seeing numerous changes and we’re seeing changes in what kind of jobs people look at. If people want to go into an agricultural job now, its water technology or something designed to deal with the future rather than may some of the management jobs and more traditional agricultural jobs in the past.
Carl: Thanks Kevin, I really appreciate that overview, that’s terrific. So now, I want to go to Steven Gregory at KPCC Southern California Public Radio and the Journalist on the Front Lines have been covering some emerging crisis for a long time. How do you see this story changing as we look forward also over the next few months? What are your plans there?
Steve: Well, it’s interesting, we’ve been following the drought in Southern California very closely over these past few years. The story has really taking on kind of a critical mass over the past few months, certainly since April 1st when Governor Brown called for the mandatory 25 percent reduction because prior to that, I think for a lot of folks in Southern California the drought was largely an obstruction, Kevin talked about, you know, we’re also used to string on the tap and having the water come out and not really think about, where it comes from and of course in Southern California, 80 percent of our water is imported whether it’s from Northern California or the Colorado River we have a lot of heavy lifting to do here and fortunately, you know, we have… then starting to see signs of that heavy lifting. So for instance, we’re in the South Coast Hydrologic Region and that we have about 177 water agencies down here and quite frankly we use probably the most water of any Hydrologic Region, in the state just given our population. And so all that 177 about 60 percent of those agencies are sort of on target from meeting their mandatory conservation standard which Felicia and the rest of the Water Boards sets last May and an epic, I don’t know if everybody was watching it but it was just really gripping, live, streaming Felicia, hats off to you guys for going 16 hours I think in finishing up at 9:30 with those final policies, it was truly, you know, an epic spectacle of policy making, but that’s said, you know, we, you know, the South coast, I think folks do take this seriously now and you see it in subtle ways, young people are putting lawn signs on their lawns saying, you know, “No H2O” or they’re just letting their lawns die or, you know, people are driving around the dirty in their car, the more, you know, sort of a points of frog you can rock up because, you’re basically telling other motorists I’m not washing my car and then in fact the City of Ventura came out and their having a contest, you know, go dirty for the drought and people who have the dirtiest car win some kind of prize, so there’s definitely like ground level support. There’s a little bit of a disconnect, I’d think between homeowners and apartment dwellers probably because apartment dwellers are in the situation where their just often not clear how much water their using where’s homeowner gets the bill every month. So, but that said, you know, we in social media and through… here in KPCC we have something called the public insight network where we stay in touch with many of our members, many of whom our or been apartment dwellers her in Southern California and, you know, there is this growing sense that the people are putting buckets in their shower to catch, you know, the water while the water is heating up or, they’re being mindful to turn the tap off while they brush their teeth or taking other steps to cut water. So, it does feel like, you know, we hit a point where everyone seems to be pulling in the same direction down here.
Carl: Great thanks Steven, again Carl Ganter here with Circle of Blue and that was Steven Gregory, Environment Editor at Southern California Public Radio. To set us up, in a moment we’ll be joined by Circle of Blue Reporter Brett Walton, who will introduce our other guests in our discussions but first a reminder to share your questions and your comments via Twitter use the #cadrought that’s cadrought or you can submit your questions via the window on your screen and if you’re not logged in go ahead and email your questions to us at email@example.com, that’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carl: And now let’s go to Brett Walton of Circle of Blue who’s going to introduce our guests and keep us moving here, Brett.
Brett: Thanks Carl. So a reminder to our audience to share your questions via Facebook, that’s facebook.com/circleofblue or at Twitter with the #cadrought and our twitter handle is @circleofblue. So, 2015 has been a remarkable year for California that’s pretty clear. There’s a lowest snow pack on record, there’s restrictions for what have been the most secure water rights in the state perhaps six hundred thousand farm acres were fallowed and there’s been thousands of dry wells in rural parts of the state. But the pain this year’s been a long time in development. Precipitation in 7 of the last 9 years has been below normal, and this is a longer trend than just these 4 years. The question is, “How is the state managing this emergency?” So, today we’re joined by three people who’re deeply involved in California’s water, as Regulators, Farm Advocates and Advisers. So we’ll hear short opening statements from each panelist before we go deeper into the issues. So, first panelist is Felicia Marcus, she’s the Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, that’s the agency that’s been at the forefront of California’s Drought Response. The State Water Board is charged with protecting water quality, administrating the state’s water rate system. This year the board has also developed standards for the state’s first ever Mandatory Urban Water Restriction, so Felicia.
Felicia: Thanks very much and thanks to the preceding speakers… and you for setting a great tone, I’m thrilled to be here. You know, we talked about how bad this drought is and lots of snowpack and it puts it over the top, interesting one in the sense that it’s a drought of clearly historical proportions in terms of the history that we’ve recorded but it’s not the worst in history in California, as we know we’ve had much longer ones, so 40 years, 400 years, apparently we really had a dozy around the time of Henry the VIIIth and we can count on this sort of thing happening more often but what we’ve seen in our time in Australia is a set of folks who had the same on average 3 year drought cycle that we had experienced through the last hundred years or so that we’d come to rely on just in our sense of what was happening in time the 2000; theirs lasted 10 or 12 years depending on where you are. So the goal could have guided our response since the beginning of the drought declaration which was an early drought declaration would act earlier than hope might suggest. We learned from the Australians that hope is definitely not a strategy as they kept thinking they were in a 3 year drought cycle for about 6 years and then they hit their 3 worst years yet and had to throw billions of dollars at everything all at once including a whole fleet of de-sal facilities that are sitting, had never been operated and they’re still paying for. So our goals were to listen to the Australian’s and do the cheaper thing first and above all to conserve early and prepare for the worst as you hope for the best. We also wanted to try to avoid adding to economic harm in some of our choices which is why you’d see as focusing on landscaping, have an opportunity.. ornamental landscaping as an opportunity to save water since early in Californian’s use on average 50 percent of the water they use outdoors and don’t even realize it. And frankly doing a lot of balancing as best we can across a whole range of actors, I’ll talk about that in a second. And then finally to try and figure out how to accelerate those actions that we know we have to do anyway in the face of climate change where all the predictions say we’re going to lose our snow pack as the temperature rises and more precipitation falls as rain rather than snow, we know we’re going to have more people. We also know that food securities can be an increasing issue around the globe and around the nation in California‘s one of only five Mediterranean climates that can reliably grow the level of fruits and vegetables that we can grow.
So what do we do? And it sort of hits on all cylinders for us.Conservation is something that hasn’t really been in our daily look that the governor gave us some emergency authority to do, and hasn’t explained, we tried the voluntary call and then we actually tried the lighter touch Mandatory Regulation to try and scoot or nudge water agencies into taking actions cause they were hesitating and then finally as even explained, the 25 percent mandatory’s, you know, tiered; and we implemented those and frankly people are doing great now, folks have gotten the message and many communities are really blowing the doors off, and it’s fantastic. On water quality side we busted our butts in the beginning of the drought to try and accelerate recycled water. Recycled water is the next thing after conservation cheapest, faster, if it’s right there we have it particularly in our large urban community so we put up hundreds and millions of dollars in low cost financing to try and goose it and streamline it for agricultural and outdoor use in ground water recharge in the water rights system, I’m happy to talk about this later people are asking probably the hardest arena, were actually implementing the water right system like it’s never been implemented before because we’re in an unprecedented level of drought, a water right system is like most of the West, it is a first in time, first in right, have 19th century principles based on minors rules where the most senior get a hundred percent of their right and the juniors are cut off a hundred percent which is why are some are areas are hurt so badly and others seemed to be doing quite well it’s very, very uneven but were implementing not only what are the junior water rights that’s been post 1914, water rights holders but even the junior seniors and they’ll be litigation galore for years over that but it’s just never been this dry before. We’ve also had to make some very tough balancing decisions, the board affirmed with conditions a number of decisions toward executive director made last year, he’s making more this year were we have these terrible hobbesian choice or what kind choice you would call it were we’ve got conditions on projects on our water rights to meet water quality standards that will set for wet, normal, dry or critically dry years but not insanely unprecedented dry years and so we’ve slashed fish flows to preserve water and storage, we’ve slashed exports, we’ve slashed all kinds of things to try and preserve water and our major storages to maintain salinity control in the delta so that we don’t end up making that water completely useless for urban or “agg” users in the delta and beyond and then perhaps in the most important arena drinking water which is now a part of the State Water Board we have been getting emergency money out the door to help communities by bottled water vending machines, drill well and run pipes because we’ve got small rural communities who’ve been running out of water over the past year and a half, we’ve been riding to the rescue with the OES and the department of water resources. What did we learn? We learned that we can actually move pretty quickly and keep presence of mind in a crises. And we’ve also learned that people do rise to the occasion and many do respect the public is way ahead of their agency to watch this year, for folks and now risen to the occasion in our urban arena. Also found farmers stepping up to help fish and you don’t get that in the headlines so much. And I try to keep that in mind that’s people are playing to the extremes which of course doesn’t help us, as we’re supposed to balance and try to maximize beneficial uses. And so that’s a good thing, and we also learn perhaps, most importantly we knew it, but it’s really been displayed that we have pretty darned clumsy tools for implementing the water rights system, it’s been historically underfunded and under staffed, this is the first administration that given us more authority and more staff and supported a legislation to give us even more. And then on the communication scene, this the last thing I’d say we’ve learned of goals, actions and learned is that really very few people have a broad view of California Water that, you know, and that includes people in the professional advocacy world but very few people in general have a broad view of California Water that they don’t know where their water comes from, they don’t know where their food comes from certainly don’t know the water content of their food, folks don’t know how much water takes to do all sort of things. Again, and then the professional advocates know your piece of the elephant, so to speak very, very well and repeat themselves but then on actually understand other people legitimate interest and so the advocacy in front of us tells us that we’ve got a big water literacy challenge in front of us and again that’s not a criticism of folks who lead very busy lives, very busy lives, but it makes a challenging to manage in a sound bite world which is frankly why your coverage and engagement has been so appreciated, it’s a level of conversation and detail it goes beyond the sound bite world and I found it incredibly useful over the past year and a half or two.
Carl: Excellent, thank you very much Felicia. Our next guest is Nadine Bailey, she’s the Chief Operating Officer for the Family Water Alliance, which is the coalition of people, her concern about the future of agriculture, private property rights, rural communities and a balance between man and nature. The only Water Alliance is based in Maxwell, California and The Sacramento Valley, so welcome Nadine.
Nadine: Thank you and I will definitely agree with Felicia a forum where you actually have time discuss these very complex issues like water is needed. These issues are not able to be discuss in detail and in a sound bite world and they’re so complex that like Felicia said many people don’t understand that you can’t… you’re not wasting water when you put it on the farm field cause those farmers are growing food for you. Rice grown in the Sacramento Valley goes all over the world and in some cultures rice is so important they don’t call you to dinner, they call you to rice, so we know what are function is in the world, we feed people and this is a great opportunity to share some of the things we do. In addition to being in the Family Water Alliance were also the Sacramento Valley Fish Screen Program. We have been screening agricultural diversions since the 1990’s and what we do is make sure that when you’re diverting from the Sacramento for agriculture that you’re not picking up endangered Salmon and putting those on the field as well. So we have kind of the unique perspective, we believe that you can have them both, you can have farms and fish and a good economy if you work together to do those types of things. Recently, we kicked off a new website called “Save California, Build Water Storage” and while conserving and recycling will help solve the problem in California, we really need to upgrade our water system and build more storage, that in this time of climate change we can capture that rain water that we’re missing right now and so that’s an important component of what we do. And we had a little event we took water down to East Porter Ville. East Porter Ville is one of the communities that has run out of water and it was eye opening to me: Number 1, How difficult it is to move water from 500 miles away to people that don’t have it and what it’s like to live in a place where there is no water, you turn on the tap and nothing comes out. And I think that people don’t realize how close we are to many communities being in that situation, so we need to work together to solve those problems. Because what I thought were elderly people that couldn’t afford air-conditioning, you not being able to use our swamp coolers because swamp coolers run on water. And if you ever been East Porter Ville in the Fresmp area the average temperature in that summer in the 90s, so you have a whole community that doesn’t even able to cool their home or have waters to flush their toilet or to take a shower. So, that’s not what we want for the future of California, that’s why Family Water Alliance is working on some of these programs to ensure that we have water for future generations. Our water system was built 60 years ago and supplies drinking water to the 25 million people and 750 thousand acres of farm land. And it’s a water system that needs upgrades. Our water system here was designed to capture cold winter snow pack which we no longer are getting and have it’s as one of the previous speakers said it’s been in decline for the last several years. So, we have enough water to meet needs right now if we would simply capture our flood water before it goes down to the ocean and use it several times and then let it go back into the ocean, so that’s why. In addition to conserving and recycling storage also have to be an option for California’s Water System. And then the other thing I’ll talk about is that, we’ll talk about the upgrades that the impact of climate change and forest management on water sheds, you can’t talk about water in California without talking about forests. The forests are water shed and like two weeks ago we had a devastating dry lightning storm that set fires all over Northern California. Yesterday, I couldn’t see to the end of my street because the smoke was so dense. They declared an unsafe air quality day and made, and cancelled any children’s event that was outside because of the danger from the forest fire smoke and that wood that is burning is our water shed, the place that holds our water during the summer and the winter. So we really need to think about forest management as we talk about water. We need to stop drawing circles around things and an old paradigm to save them and look at an integrative environmental policy that takes people into account and looks down the road fifty to a hundred years with our environmental policy to fix some of the mistakes that we’ve made in the last 20 years. And those of some of the things I’ll be talking about on my panel.
Carl: Excellent, thanks you so much Nadine. Food, farms, water force their all connected as their saying in this summer. Our third panellist is Dr. Robert Wilkinson, his Adjunct Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Robert Wilkinson teaching, research and consulting focused on water and energy policy climate change and environmental policy issues. He serves as an adviser for the California Climate Action Team and the State Water Plan and for agency including The California Energy Commission State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources and thanks for being here Bob.
Bob: No, it’s a pleasure to be here, I appreciate your setting these calls up and in furthering this public education process, all of this learning together. I just hope downs a little bit higher level to this opener and then we can dig, you know, a little bit more but myself says were focus but perhaps preoccupied right now on drought. And I live through that the 70’s drought here in California and the 80’s to 90’s. Way back into the 70’s, we had early programs we’re Cash for Grass, change your landscape out to a more efficient landscape a kind of program on, we got the early plumbing efficiency standards, we were great proud of ourselves back then with going from 5 plus gallons per flush toilets stand a low flow toilet which were three and a half gallons of flush and of course now were at around a gallon of flush for good toilets or less. So we’re learning only we get technical development and power saved up. We’ve also seemed to forget then a lot of things each cycle we have a drought and then it rains again and that’s a flip I think we were preoccupied a little with, we were going to dry cycle but we can fully expect to have wet cycles and in fact that’s fast more help weather webs along the dry or dry so we really need to keep in mind more help unless we saw Felicia mentioned Australia, I had a chance to work quite a bit over the last decade down there and during the drought melt has ended. And by chance, I was down there when it started raining, when it rain and it flooded and that, the whole game shift with after about a decade of drought and it was as Felicia said a difficult thing when you’re spent many billions of dollars on it, the structure desalinization plants but suddenly there all mothballed because that wasn’t an investment that actually was the one they needed most and so in all but Perth all the major cities built them and then mothballed them and that infrastructure just sitting perhaps waiting for the next drought but in the meantime, they’re back to the efficiency with rainwater harvesting, recycling all of the stuff that people talked about. So I guess I concluded that I’m not (unintelligible) but you’ve said I’m not young enough to know everything that. So I need to kind of step back put it in perspective. But the things I want to talk about or ah, some of the policy challenges, I think the water rights challenges in particular are intriguing. it was exactly a hundred years after 1914 that the state board really had to use the tools such as they are and they’re quite imperfect and help people to again sort out where they are in line. So that set of policy frames from local agencies up to the state and Federal Government but then also the individual and technical opportunities all I’ll go through those and then I’ll take up some in the breakout group on the energy water nexus work that I’ve done on understanding better the energy and applications that some of the water choices and in fact were good water strategies could help as well on the mission reduction of some climate response strategies.
Carl: Excellent, thanks so much Bob. So hearing and more from him on Hydropower and Energy it takes to operate this state very massive and substantial water system. So thanks again. These are three panellists. From now we’re going to move into large breakout groups where you’ll have a chance to discuss further and spend more time with each of your panellists. So group 1, will join Felicia Marcus, Chair of the California State Water Resources Control Board, group 2 will be with Nadine Bailey, Chief Operation Officer of The Family Water Alliance and group 3 will join Robert Wilkinson, Director of the Water Policy Program at the University of California in Santa Barbara.
Brett: Hey, this is Brett Walton of Circle of Blue here, Felicia are you on the phone?
Felicia: I am.
Brett: Excellent, you can go ahead and start, I think everyone is in the room now.
Felicia: Great! I think my first one was a little long, so this should be short. I am eager to get into the conversation because there’s so much going on, I really appreciated what my other colleagues had to say. The first thing I want to say, as a role is that we’ve been looking at this issue as administration since the drought was declared, we do a lot of action plans which I would direct people to, I would say California Water Action Plan. We have been in California Water Action Plan and then you can find it, you’ve got to put action in but basically in all of the above strategy meaning historically it seems in the water wonk world at least in the policy world there’s still a lot of dialogue that I would call the challenging ego system management rather that eco system management which is people talking past to each other, repeating themselves louder and slower sort of the equivalent, and so it’s not (Overlapping conversation 01:15:08.16 – can you guys hear what I’m hearing? 01:15:37.06) all of the above where everybody can see themselves which is how do we cope with, what climate change is going to bequeath us in terms of the lack of snow pack. How do we deal with the future looking just a few decades, start now? Our view is that, we’re all will be late so in that document, we’ve committed ourselves to conservation, recycling, stormwater capture, Desalinization as appropriate in circumstances, ecosystem management ahead of the curve restoring systems. Providing safe drinking water to all Californians which I’ve never seen on the list for a Governor, it is probably the most important thing they will ever do. Dealing with the real issues and the delta, dealing with storage as Nadine said; may have been big, small, above ground and below ground and that’s why we doubled down on getting ground water legislation passed last year which was a real accomplishment, we got to do flood control preparation and we got to prepare for droughts ahead of the curve. And we do all of those and we do that in a way that we try to figure out how to maximize water and most of its benefits out of every drop. We can absolutely make it because the way we use water now is fraught with conflict and terribly inefficient but we’ve got to get off our butts and do things together sort of figuring out how to get all the things that people need working together rather than allowing sort of the politics and discord to prevail. So, I think the drought has provided a real tension between those two where folks can either rise to the occasion or go in to their corners and over time moralizing into the dialogue stage. So I just wanted to start with that. And the question I have was do we all have the tools and information that needs to respond to this, what are lacking and what are the most important short term challenges. I have to start out on an optimistic note you know, on the one hand we definitely have more tools than ever, we’ve got more in the last couple of years than what we got in the last few decades. A lot of emergency authorities can be able to do emergency information orders a lot of authority to do enforcement that we never had so that our roles actually have some teeth and mean something. We’ve gotten more people from the administration and the legislature to deal with the drought and water rights implementation but also to set public trust flows that have been horribly late on, will get back to it in a minute. To do ground water monitoring, to deal with tracking regulation or with gas regulation generally where we got a tremendous amount of more authority and more people, to deal with enforcement in the [garbled] arena whether legal or illegal growth, we do have folks who are not complying with water right laws or water quality laws and it’s a combination of enforcement and education but really a big issue, particularly on the North Coast and parts of the Central Valley. With that said, while the tools and information we had are a lot better that last year, we frankly on the water rights side are still far behind virtually all of the Western States, we have a theoretical system and we’ve got permits and licenses for the Push 14 water rights holders [Inaudible 01:19:00.14] but we don’t have a regular information, we don’t have leader and we don’t have extreme gauges that are up to speed and so we’re doing a lot better this year than the last, but they are so long way to go to be much more precise with managing such a scarce resource and not just managing it but managing it in a transparent way where all can see which is something that the Australians really worked on heavily in the 90s which was something that put them in better stead to deal with their issues once they’re really focused. We also don’t really have a formal knowledge of groundwater surface water interconnections, we can regulate it under our traditional authorities to subterranean stream that we can figure it out otherwise it’s been trying to use somewhat unexercised tools or even just try to get the information about the level of groundwater pumping and light that are going on in most places. Now the Groundwater legislation will have help us, it is going to take three, five, maybe ten years to fully implement but it’s going to be a legacy piece of work which will give us kind of the information we need, more importantly locals, the information they need to actually manage those groundwater bases in the future because part of the reason why it’s not ten times worth, particularly in agriculture these years because people have been pumping groundwater any way they can get it and it’s been drying down those basins which is what you want in a drought but you got to pay that bank back so for the next drought. We also need a full on assessment of what fish and wildlife be to implement with full trust responsibilities. We finally in this administration got more people as did fish and wildlife to start prioritizing streams and doing work that we have an obligation to do since ’82, we’ve done it in some places in the _____ Delta where we are right now but we haven’t really done our public trust work the way we might like to because they haven’t had the capacity, now we are finally starting to get it and frankly if you want the system to work well with water rights, you need to adjudicate it or at least get closer to what other Western States have done to layout where everybody’s rights are, we could give each other and what you are going to do in a drought like this in advance so that you are not trying to do it on the fly in a conflict which is certainly not the ideal way to do it. In an ideal system which has public trust flows on all our major streams and we adjudicate all the rights to each other and know what to do in advance. As I said, last year we go out of emergency information authority and enforcement authority so we’re in a much better shape to do it this year than last but still we’re not where we need to be in the 21st century.
Brett: Where did all these changes come from?
Felicia: Where the changes come from? Legislature primarily. I think both in terms of authorities and in terms of staffing overtime, but adjudication is kind of a big deal, it took Colorado twenty years to do this, it took Idaho twenty seven, so you don’t do it lightly, there might be some way to do it in a shorter term we’re certainly resolving disputes between water right holders right now and those will be litigated for a number of years and set the stage but you got get started and make some of these decisions so that we can get it set in stone. The other issues, I would say the short term challenges really helping the communities that are running out of water – has got to be the number one priority. That is normally not a state role and it is very much a local role, water at the local level tends to be which is why our [Inaudible 01:22:39.17] nation regs were kind of a big deal in that we were the first state in the country to ever do that but we got thousands of water agencies particularly very small ones around the state and we really do need better funding sources and authorities to work with them. We’ve done a lot in the last year, I am very happy about that as legislation uses drinking water over to us and passed some trailer bill legislation, it even allowed us to consolidate some smaller entities that can’t do it on their own with water shortage and entities with some caveats on it but that will help a little bit but really until the legislature comes up with the funding source to help local communities we’re going to have a hard time and that sort of the next thing on back. We’ve got hundreds and millions of dollars in the bond to build capital projects which is phenomenal in the past. The bond itself which is, you know, that’s half billion a lot of it is for conservation, recycling poor communities’ drinking water and waste water etc. I mean it’s [unintelligible] because it is all the things I said in the action plan and until we get a long term and source which has to happen in the legislature, it’s going to be very hard because you can build the system and people won’t be able to operate or will not be able to loan money to people who can’t pay back so the human right to water bill that passed a couple of years ago still has a lot of implementation ahead of it. Conservation, recycling, storm water capture, I had to say, accelerate it go, go, go. Let’s seize that moment, see that change that Kevin mentioned in the beginning. I really do think for paradigm ship towards a more integrative water future but we’ve got to go, go, go and capture the moment and as I said earlier, we’ve got to make some of these decisions that have lingered for years or decades not just the page where just farmers but farmers versus farmers. Water right holder versus other water rights holders’ battle. So that’s gone on for decades just to break the log jam. And then finally I do think communication is one of the biggest challenges, I mean the world’s water today in many part of the state is full of confusion, misinformation and frankly disinformation in some accounts and so sometimes having a legitimate and important conversation, we need to be having about water gets cut off in a [Inaudible 01:25:08.04] Monty Python routine which is a waste of scarce human energy and we really do need to be getting people together to talk about real facts, data helps do that but also in a way where we find out we’re not just the win wins but where we define what’s important to people which is the combination of a healthy ecosystem with fish and salmon not just for the salmon fisherman but for all of us and who we are but also for appreciating agriculture and what it is important to the world and urban areas. We’ve done pretty well on conservation once we got passed that initial blame game where people where in, I always said it was something like a little bit could be worse saying things of getting in to something where people who are in the anger denial but then the blaming period whether it’s tracking or bottled water, new development of urban somewhat falls the economy water rights and environmental versus water users, that was as helpful as conversation. I’m seeing it happen in urban areas, I’m seeing it happen in the media, I’m seeing it happen infront of us where people spoke only of the extremes and the last big hearing we had, folks came in and said we know you need the water users, and folks saying, okay we know the fish are important and you need to help protect the fish but can you work on this detail that would make a really big difference for us and that was a huge breakthrough from what we normally do which is to hear hours and hours of people talking at the extremes and then we have to do the balancing ourselves. So the effect of that we can see is acknowledging that we’re all on this together and helping suggest that solutions and so with that gong, I will close and look forward to the conversation.
Brett: Thanks Felicia, we just have some questions here. Some of these are covered in your presentation, I’ll read the questions that you might not touch on, so one question here, what’s the role on the feasibility in developing water markets to improve water efficiency and getting water to areas where it is needed more? The question on values: How do you take the value of water into consideration when you’re talking about restriction being cut?
Felicia: Well, two things, I mean on water markets this water discussion about what the Australians did and the fact that pricing is really all over the lot. I think in the first instance to have more vibrant, markets we’ve got to have right settled and metering and measuring in quite part of what slows up, water trading is a lack of transparency and lack of certainty. When folks are trying to trade water what tends to take a long time is someone tends to believe the way you are, have to assess whether it’s real water or paper water and if folks have not chewed up their water rights in the case of controversy or come to us to get a license, it’s theoretical, so the value of water to people as they have may not really knew what they have until it adjudicated. So it’s hard to do the kind of full on marketing that what Australia did but it could make it though a lot faster if you just had better information and chewed up some of the rights. When it comes to the balancing, I have information that allows us to do it at more precision… I’ve seen agencies agonize in multiple conversations about how can they try and protect not just endangered fish and wildlife but not endangered fish like the commercial fisheries but we have to protect in trying to figure out how to maximize beneficial uses and I think this year well pretty much it’s been said, I can’t say what I think about it because it’s up on appeal to me, but it’s been portrayed as really on the knife’s edge. We lost an awful lot of Salmon fry last year when the temperature control plant for ________ didn’t work because it was way hotter than anybody had predicted and they have some temperature gauge issues and this year they have some temperature gauge issues again and we’re really crossing our fingers and hoping that we can make it through the summer without losing it an entire year class of salmon. So it’s really quite challenging. In Australia when they did it, it’s kind of simple, when you’re talking about air and gauge missions, they actually created all kinds of zones where trades could be done automatically and transparently and online. In other places where we have to go through two more steps to deal with this fear factor and if all of a sudden you went to markets or whole communities, economies would plummet as farmers decided they could make more money, all their water and then all of a sudden not only their workers but all the community retailers and others that depend on farm economy go kaput and so it is very complex but if we spent some time on it, we could probably come up with the way to enhance marketing without destroying whole communities.
Brett: We’re talking about the community issue and someone had asked about rural communities and how California doesn’t uhm [unintelligible] case of water have and water have not. You know the person who control [interrupted by Ben – “One minute to go”] water.
Felicia: Well, It’s a hugely important issue, and that’s why I’ve been happy to be a part of this administration for safe drinking water and human rights water up at the top of the list, the way we’ve done it is by prioritizing communities both through tool that I encourage people to look at to sort of map communities and try and prioritize disadvantaged communities funding sources, we certainly prioritize a hundred millions in the bond have prioritized it. We have tools to do deal with our communities. Ironically through the emergency money we’ve got to use to run to the rescue of communities that ran out of water, we’ve been able to help communities that have water but it was crap water that we didn’t have the tools to deal with before a drought, so it is absolutely our top priority. And we work with community groups like Community Water Center to make that happen.
Nadine: Almost all the water for California comes from the mountains surrounding the Sacramento Valley. It’s a tremendous water storage facility that exists in those forest, so if you’ll remember that, so you can see Shasta Lake or Trinity Lake Whiskeytown and what this map will show with a pipe water from Trinity Lake which is a different watershed it is the Klamath watershed over into the Sacramento, and that also augments the Sacramento River flow which in turn goes clear down to Los Angeles where it’s lifted by what some people call one of the wonders of the modern world a pump, that pumps it up over 2000 feet over (unintelligible) and down into Los Angeles.
So it’s a very complex system it was designed to capture snowmelt and now it is suffering because the snowmelt is disappearing and our water events are coming in not in the November December January February snows that were used to but November rains and last year we went with no rainfall clear into the spring and then we had two massive rain events that dumped inches of water on to the mountains that quickly flowed out to the ocean because we didn’t have any way to capture that. So what we’re looking at now is “can we change that system to be able to capture those rain events. And in addition we really can’t talk about water in California unless we’re talk about the watershed that holds this water. So for the last 20 years we’ve been on a collision course of environmental policy that has pitted one species against each other and right now what we have is Spotted Owl policy damaging fishing policy. And because in order to provide the healthy watersheds we really need to be going into the Northern California Sierra forest and telling them, when my father who is six or seven generation Californian as a kid he could ride from one side of the state on horseback to the other underneath a canopy of trees, because there was about 60 stems per acre, now we have in excess of 600 to 700 stems per acre. Brush and trees that is overstocked forest that are unhealthy, and during this drought, whole acres and acres and miles and miles of trees are dying because there simply is not enough water in this Mediterranean climate. And what happened 2 weeks ago was a massive storm, no rain, dry lightning; set fires. So, and they’re not just ordinary fires that are cleaning up the forest floor which would be good. But because there’s so much wood on the ground – deadwood, they’re stand replacing watershed destroying fires that are going to have impact for countless generations because they’re destroying the watershed. About 3 weeks ago, we had a front movement off of a hurricane and it dumped 4 inches of water in a watershed in a day. It was an area that had been burnt and not rehabilitated and that rain devastated that watershed. It washed gravel and took soil that should be on the side of the mountain down into the river and turned the Calamus River from Green to Brown for about a week and a half. So losing our soil and our watershed is not a way to preserve water. And so forest health is a critical component. and you can, I’m going to repost on my facebook page a study done by the associated California Water Association about some of the things we can do to preserve watershed health. The other solution and you can go now to sykes reservoir is looking at how to capture some of that rain runoff. Below Shasta Lake there are two contributors to flood, and as we talk about drought, we also on the end of every drought has been massive floods. Some that have covered the state. In fact, at one time Sacramento was had 5-10 feet of standing water. That’s why the capital today is built up so high is because of the floodwaters that are now stopped by Shasta lake. But in the winter when we get those rain events, if we build Sykes Reservoir, which is offstream storage, and will not impact fisheries, we could capture that rain water and then hold it so in the summer, so that when we need it for urban uses, farming uses and fish, we could let that water go back into the system and help with many of the issues that we’re facing today.
The other thing that I see is that people think that water just gets used once. And if you look at some of the charts that I’ve put up, you can see that every drop of water that comes into California will get put in a farm field, but it goes back especially in the Sacramento valley, it goes back into the river system, and becomes water for fish habitats, recreation, and all of these other uses. The prawn fields that some of my other members have are also some of the most beautiful bird habitats that you’ve ever seen. Rice farms are habitats for countless species of birds and endangered species. So we might use water for rice, but we are also using it for environmental issues as well. I’m not sure how much time I have. So in the past, we’ve gone to single species management to save species, and recently, professors like Michael Rosenzweig have written about how that type of species management that doesn’t take in human interaction, and the fact that 25 million people need drinking water from these forests and the watersheds in northern California. We can have species protection and the values that we hold dear like clean drinking water and clean streams. We can do that, but we have to start integrating our species management in a way that takes into account the fact that we have cities with millions of people that depend on the water and we have species that are endangered.
We don’t have to sacrifice, as Dr. Rosenzweig says. We don’t have to commit economic suicide to save species. We can come up with solutions. His book “Win Win Ecology” is a great book and so is Lynne Ingram’s book “The West Without Water”. I recommend that for everyone that’s thinking about these issues as we go through them. Trying to think of anything else I missed.
Again, water storage is a key component to recycling and repurposing our water. We have to have them all. And, that’s it, I think that’s my 10 minutes.
Keith: Good. Nadine this is Keith Schneider of Circle of Blue. Nadine, could you explain to the listeners the sykes reservoir debate of about whether to build it or not to build it?
Nadine: Ok so, we had a bond a couple of years ago where the people of California said that we need above ground storage. And that was kind of surprising to me that in the past, overwhelmingly because Dan says the kind of evil strawman lately because of their impact upon fisheries. And they have impacted fisheries. That’s why Sykes reservoir is so unique because it’s offstream storage. It’s taking a valley that has no fish population currently there and using it like we would set up a giant bowl up in the mountains, and using that valley to hold what we need. So the controversy is I think misplaced because a lot of the angst about Dan is that their impact on fish habitat which they have had a tremendous impact. The other thing is that there is a large group of people that do not want to see any storage built because they think that it will just make the problem worse because we will continue to sell and use and plan to use water that we don’t have. And so I think their concerns need to be addressed as we move forward. And in this process that we really probably have reached the limit of water that we can add to the system. We can capture more of what we have, but growing the system I think is unlikely, and is probably one of the big concerns that everyone has.
Keith: And tell me if I’m wrong. Again his is Keith Schneider of Circle of blue. I was out there in June and wrote a pretty in depth piece about the Sykes reservoir with Nadine’s help but we’re still.. it’s an expensive project, $4 billion current estimate, that’s in 2015 dollars.
It’s going to take 10 years give or take a few years depending upon debate, planning, funding; to get it built. What’s your sense? And the other piece of it is it can be capable of storing a good amount of water 1.4 billion acre/feet of water capable of releasing 600,000 acre/feet a year into the system which is a good bit of water. But what’s your sense, Nadine, about what there actually will be built?
Nadine: On and off, for the most part I wouldn’t live in California [laughs]
Nadine: All the pessimists moved away years ago. I believe we can get it built. I think the fires this year, the destruction of habitat, I think the impacts driving up and down I-5 and seeing those fallow farm fields, it’s having an impact. I think people are starting to understand. “Oh those people are growing my food, and I want to continue to eat”. Like I joked “If you liked No Meat Monday, you’re going to love No Food Friday”. Cuz that’s where we’re headed.
Keith: Let me ask you another one. Last time we talked, you told me something really interesting about flood irrigation, rice, and levels of aquifer – water storage and aquifers in Northern California; where scientists who have had years ago recommended to reduce flood irrigation in favor of drip irrigation and that smaller sprinklers are a much more efficient use of water may have made a mistake in terms of how much water was available in the regions of aquifers. I wonder if you could tell these people about that.
Nadine: Ok so that gets back to you’ll hear about ground water storage, we want ground water storage. In the Sacramento Valley, If I water my lawn up and letting, that water seeps down into the groundwater and I may be using water, but I’m replenishing the ground water supply. And so when people switch over from rice over to trees, the wells that we have to monitor, and right when I’m at actually has a regional ground water monitoring group which was quite controversial but has been very successful in alerting people when they’re taking more groundwater than they are putting back in. So right now, the Sacramento Valley is in good shape with water. But if we continue to pump and not use the irrigation system, like this year the Tehama-Colusa Canal got no water, so if they couldn’t buy that water from the Glenn Colusa Canal, many of those people that relied on the Tehama-Colusa Canal for water they had to pump water. and you can’t do that as you know; by looking at the San Joaquin Valley. You can’t pump ground water forever, you have to replenish it. And so rice and crops and nut trees that they flood irrigate is a great way to replenish ground water.
Keith: Questions from anybody? Anybody have questions for Nadine? [chime sounds] Go ahead if you have a question. All right, that gives me a chance to ask one more. So during my trip to California in June, I was in the Del Puerto Water District, which is south of the Delta. Uses quite a bit of water every year, 47,000 acres more than half of it almonds, fallowed a lot of fields and the manager of that Water district, a woman named Anthea Hansen was talking to me about water markets and how much she and her growers were paying for water to be transported into the Del Puerto water district. Through the existing canals systems. Much of that water that they were buying was coming from Northern California, I think from your region Nadine. And the cost of that water was over $2000 an acre foot. That is that they were buying millions of dollars worth of water. So as a journalist I’m very interested in doing an article about water trading and water sales, and water availability; but there must be another effect in the growing periods right? If farmers, rice farmers in particular, are selling water. And I’m wondering whether you can help us understand how that works from Northern California, where water sales are occurring.
Nadine: So, economic professors will tell you that commodity products like forestry and farm products have a multiplier that is greater than service. So some people say it’s 5, some people say it’s 7. Every dollar that is spent on growing a commodity and selling a commodity has a multiplier in the local community of anywhere from 5 to 7. So there will be some multiplier in selling water, to the communities like it would have been had that crop of rice had been put in because that rice grower would buy tires from the local tire company and even though many of these people are using that money to upgrade their infrastructure, leveling their fields, buying equipment that they wouldn’t have been able to buy; there does come a place where the tipping point comes where you don’t have anything left to invest. So this year, probably the impact is not going to be that bad, but if the Sacramento Valley, if that was the trend that continues, that would hurt the local economy up here.
Keith: And we’re talking jobs, production; is that what you’re talking about?
Nadine: Yeah, jobs, production, all the things that are related to farming activities. Gasoline sales, bookkeeping, you know, there’s a multitude of things that go along. The farm gives back 7 times into the community. For every dollar that’s spent, 7 come back into the community. And we saw that during the failure and the decline of the timber industry too.
Keith: One minute to go. One last question Nadine, if you would. Your group is expert on the Salmon runs and Salmon numbers. And Salmon drives, appears to be driving a lot of choices and policy about and use of supply of water in California right now. Can you explain how that works, and why that’s happening?
Nadine: Salmon need water [chuckles] and everybody else wants water? Salmon are usually at the bottom. And for the first time in this year and last year, you saw some of the litigation using the Endangered Species act, move that bar over and Salmon became important in that scheme of things. so that’s the big difference. The litigation has taken hold and so Salmon are getting water that they wouldn’t have gotten before.
Bob: So, California is the kind of situation Southern California, you know, there was a comment in the opening in water usage in Southern California. About half of Southern California’s water is actually local water. There’s a tremendous amount of rain water harvesting, that’s already going on an Urban Southern California, this is basically the 3 major water sheds of Los Angeles and San Gabriel [unintelligible] water sheds but all the way[unintelligible] when you [unintelligible] down to the Mexican border about half is local water. About a quarter is state water, project water being pumped from the delta down the valley over the mountains although of course in the last couple of years that has been reduced dramatically and then about a quarter is Colorado River water coming in through the metropolitan’s Colorado River aqueduct. So, I’m getting a disconnected sign here, and this is quite distracting (timestamp for engineering escalation [01:06:15.23]) but I’m just going to keep going. So, what does that mean, it turns out that every water agency at least that I’m aware of is working diligently now with billions of dollars in investments going into local water supply development that would be efficiency improvement firsts [unintelligible] and rain water harvesting and water recycling everything from inter___ reuse to the standard purple pipe kind of systems. And in a couple of cases including environment community going the [unintelligible] desal in our case for the second time, the first time [unintelligible-interrupted escalating for mic status tags [01:06:54.07] We got other people talking on the line? I don’t know who’s doing the technical but it’s there. If they could sort that out that would be nice. So this investments from the water agencies (mumbles [01:07:07.00] – [01:10:00.05])systems are moving very dramatically in the direction of local water supply development and trying to reduce reliance and the draw on the big irrigation systems and in this case the state water project and the Colorado river aqueduct. So that’s interesting the implications for drought resilience and building a more robust system and also from the standpoint of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. In most cases even with the additional treatments for water recycling the amount of energy used relative to the amount used to import water over the ocean by our nation is quite a bit less. so we’re getting multiple benefits here from some of the new strategies. But the other interesting thing is that most of this is being financed by local money. The work capital for the last decade where the investment is in water infrastructure. Almost all of it is coming out of local agencies [interrupted [01:08:21.10] Ok, we’re getting people talking on the line here and the state contribution is the maxed in the least from the federal government so if you think of the big powerful federal government and the big money, actually those days are long gone. Investment really is at the political level. And that makes the big difference I was talking about. Institutions, as part of the topic for today and decision making but it really is as I see it going to be a rate based future. That is, water rates, local fees, taxes are going to be the primary mechanism for financing the technologies and the approaches we take to manage a resilient and reliable water system, and what that means is that people need to be convinced that those investments are getting the results they’re looking for in the appropriate..but they’re the people [unintelligible] at this point in California anyway, Northern California as well as Southern California, Bay area is actually much more similar to Southern California than many realized. What’s going on in Silicon Valley right now with water recycling and the ground water management look at the Silicon Water Agency which is not connected to the state infrastructure the state water project [unintelligible] system and on down to Marin County. Same story with the aggressive efficiency and recycling and so forth. Lots of lessons to be learned in terms of rethinking how we use water, how much is there, understanding the limits [unintelligible] that cuts into the pricing as well. The institutions managing these resources clearly are faced with the conundrum people expect high quality water with high reliability and they expect it delivered yesterday, no problems and it’s no longer a world where that is possible the rate structures are going to need to reflect the cost, the true cost including the environmental cost of managing water systems. So this is how of the big one’s I wanted to throw out there.
Steven: Hey, Bob we’re getting some questions now on the screen here and you were talking about water rates and one of the things that’s interesting about water rates in California right now is, you know, several agencies have tried what to known is to tiered pricing where, you know, individual water users get a certain water budget and have to go over that budget, they’re charged a higher rate for the excess water that they use that in a, in a one city, Capistrano, they’re was say a legal challenge to that and in fact that tiered pricing scheme lost in court primarily because there’s a state law that basically requires, you know, a pricing to basically reflect the cost of providing service. I’m just wondering as we move forward as California moves forward, how are we going to get past that, that obstacle of, you know, it’s a proposition of 47 for folks who don’t know it was a voter initiative that basically required utilities public utilities could not charge more for service than cost of providing that service. But how can you get around that obstacle that prop 47 has placed in the path of tiered pricing?
Bob: I think you’re talking about prop 18 actually.
Steven: My mistake.
Bob: Yeah, and now actually constitutional amendment in California, so they were dealing with not just a law but a constitutional provision. What it calls for is a reflection of actual cost you know what’s being charged, so it does not say that in the Capistrano district it does not say that tiered rate structures are illegal or inappropriate. It says that the entity developing the charges needs to tie them to actual cost. So in some ways, in an interesting twist this is perhaps useful and agencies essentially sharpening their pencils and reading the book reflect the increased marginal cost of the increased extra cost it takes, you know, if people would like to use water with abandon they’ve got to go out and get it. Building that lease outline and operating, buying some more water on a water market or building more expensive infrastructure is going to cost more than its [unintelligible]. I got a problem though, from the social equity stand point your strong sense that having a so called lifeline rate a low cost amount of water that certain amount to make sure that everyone has access to a basic amount of water that one would need. That cannot be subsidized according to the interpretation [unintelligible] so there are a lot of discussions about that make sure to take care of that dimension. In fact, that’s a relatively small amount of water in the large scheme so we’ve got many tiers above that. But there is a strong move to change the proposition to which a constitutional change I think or some efforts as well some legal changes without changing the constitution and it strikes me that that is in order because the pricing tool, in order to send a clear price signal that helps you understand the value of water is that important.
Steven: Well exactly, then that kind of goes to another question that’s been posted on that’s screen in the breakout room, and that going to goes this issue of water being over appropriated in California, in other words, even during the wet years some would argue that, you know, that California has over subscribed it’s available water and I’m wondering how do we change that and be, I mean where do price signals, maybe fall into efforts to change that?
Bob: Well, I would argue that every nature system have been overallocated for a long time. You know, we saw some of the early cases, the ___ case in Monterey was a good example and the courts and the state board openly decided that yes, the water rights that Los Angeles holds are not.. they still retain the water rights but there are limits to the exercise of those water rights in the public press document. We’ve got overdraft of ground water systems and asking the question of the rates of pumping we don’t’ know exactly how much cause we don’t measure and report that information cuz I believe we should, work clearly over drafting ground water at a very unsustainable level we have over appropriated most of the surface systems so the Colorado River does not reach see it hasn’t for a long time, even now [unintelligible] And, you know, San Joaquin River and Klamath was the second largest river in California, whether it’s sand for about 50 miles. We’ve got a lot of systems that have been over exploited to the point where became really a restoration of flows and systems if you could affect something like sustainable machine for ground water and surface water extractions.. I actually think that it’s quite possible to restore the ground water systems but it’s going to take sometime and it matters sustainability. They key is that to have good information on the resource, and then have the policy tools in place to be able to manage within the limits of the resource so that [unintelligible].
Steven: But Bob, do you feel that the timing of the state’s efforts to get a handle on the ground water situation that the law that was passed last summer was sort of putting on place the framework to get more information about, you know, how much ground water is in the ground? How much is being pumped, you know, pushes for the final implementation of the plan I think up until 2025, maybe later. And, you know, in the meantime, you know, it seems like the status quo will be allowed to continue the ground water pumping will be allowed to continue, is there disconnect there and the need to get this information that you’ve been talking about and the long timeline is that this law has laid out?
Bob: Well, in my view, yes. I think this way too long a time frame. We’ll meet move much more quickly. We are going to pay the price for waiting to resolve things. We have very expensive impacts already in terms of infrastructure that is being impacted. Roads and Canals and rats for plans subsidence So we really need to up the game in my view. It does not diminish the strong effort from part of our folks to push through the first significant ground water management law. But there’s still fierce opposition there still is today to even talking about how much [unintelligible] and I do think we need to shift and in a sense that is important than necessary to have goo information on the table to be able to manage. We are only a 2.3 Trillion Dollar economy. We’re only one of the top 10 of the world. You’d think that with water being fundamentally important resource in the economy, that at the scale that we’re operating, it’s the equivalent of a major nation state that [unintelligible] figure out a way to actually measure and manage resources to [unintelligible]
Steven: Yes, and actually to that question I think we have time for just one other question, in this portion of the breakout Bob but you mentioned obviously the size of the California economy, and yet many folks would argue that our water laws are archaic, that they basically were set up at a time that they couldn’t foresee the growth of the economy as it is today. And I think Australia was able to remake its water rights? If I remember correctly, how can California do something similar? What do you think?
Bob: I [unintelligible] Australian models directly political [unintelligible] whipped out quite a lot spent time in there. There are big differences between the Federal role and state role there and the tradition on the ground. So I think we have to deal with our own reality in California. Truth is, in 1848 you know, we picked up the Spanish law, the Pueblo Water Rights. That was our first water doctrine. Then we created a brand new one the next year in the Gold Mines, under the appropriate doctrine, and then in 1850 we created a state, and we adopted ___ rights from the English common law suing, and in the states for less than 2 years we picked up 3 water doctrines and have been fighting over it vigorously. Since we created the state. None of them really are logic, are legal logic for a sustainable water management system. They really aren’t. they were designed for different purposes. For clarifying who had rights to what on Federal territory before we were even a state and so forth, so I do think it probably is time to do a serious rethink of what is a legal framing that makes sense. In the meantime, much as we have over allocation on paper of water rights; that’s ___ more water than is really there. And so we’re really setting up for allocation sites that could be from an economic standpoint, from an equity standpoint not necessarily very fair either. I don’t have the answer. But I do think that it probably is time to take a hard look at a legal framework for water management that works better from the standpoint of sustainability as well equity.
Steven: Exactly. And I wonder how easy a process that would be in other words, the current legal framework has been in place for close to 100 years. There are a lot of vested interests in maintaining that legal framework. I mean how feasible is it to have folks that down rationally and try to hammer out a more equitable distribution of the water pie?
Bob: Well, I think it’s been so unfeasible for so long that it’s essentially of the table, and for the last 6 months I’ve been asking people from various quarters leading figures in the water battles in California, their thoughts on the water rights issue, take a serious look at water rights, and the answer is just a instead of “no way, we’re not going there” it’s “you know, we’d need to protect these senior rights and stuff off but yes they’d probably need to talk about it. I think we’re inching toward a dialogue in California it could be quite healthy to really figure out what do we need to do and what do we need to know to be able to manage water differently. It’s going to be the [unintelligible: “foreign doc of noturnis”] no question. And maybe that’s the way it works I mean that’s our system and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Put all the information on the table and get people to sort it out. But it probably would get quite ugly, hopefully we’d figure out ways to do it that are not so ugly. I do think Felicia and her colleagues on the board are doing a tremendous job in trying to steer through this and it is taking people that have an ear for all sides and they’re trying to think about the equities. To guide a dialogue to try to get in to actually changing [unintelligible] for which it’s not so far.
Steven: You know you I mean you mentioned a couple of times, equity a couple of times. Is the water board the sole arbiter of equity in California, or should that be a larger dialogue?
Bob: Well of course, we will structure they are quasi judicial and then it goes on to the courts, and the courts, they get ultimate arbitral… interpreting the law, when it comes to politics people can stare and write that political dialogue.
Brett: Hi everyone, its Brett Walton again Reporter in Circle of Blue, I hope the breakout groups were productive, we certainly have a lot of questions and a lot of discussions in the room, I was in. So given what you’ve heard we’re now going to put you into work, so to speak. So we’re going to let you talk about this in smaller groups. We have people on this call from all of over the world and all over the U.S., so we heard Carl say, we people from India, from Italy, from Denmark, from Stockholm and a people from California. So we’re going to put you into smaller groups and you can share responses. What we want to know from you is what do you see that’s working, what do see that’s not working? You all have a lot of experience from all around the world. Are there instances in drought response that you see in your area that might be transferred to California? Are there responses in California that have been proposed or have been implemented but are just not counting it?
Carl: Just a quick note too and just to remember that next week we’re going to carry the conversation forward talking more about El Niño. And here’s a big question, will El Niño save the day? It seems like what everybody’s asking and we’ll have some news to discuss by next Tuesday. And again we have added capacity, so please invite your colleagues and networks to the conversations. And then also, August 25th really hope you’ll join us too live from Stockholm and if you will be in Stockholm, email us, email@example.com and let us know and will have a live show from Stockholm, that will be a lot of fun. Carl: You know, we’ve done these calls before, it’s a lot of a magic has come out of these breakout groups, where you’re coming together, you all have a high interest in the issue and it’s, you know, we had some magical conversations, in fact not that this has to happen here, but when we did, what can California learn from Australia? We connected California with Australia and we had about it, 50/50 mix and from down under dialing in the middle of the night. And we have folks talking, literally have keep the lines open for another hour, so that call went on and in fact I think we even went home and people are still talking, it’s a great way to make connections and meet other people working in the space. So, I’d really recommend it, so, you know, if you press 1 or 2 we may just go ahead and throw you in but when you’re in the groups just introduce yourself briefly and just go around the room, imagine you’re sitting at the table, you’ll have a nice display on your screen.
Brett: Yes, this is the time for you to interact with us, we’re looking to help tell the story to California drought. Looking at take away questions that you have also if there’s a story that you think needs to be told or covered let us know. But the big question here is what responses do you see working, what is not, what lessons might you take from your part of the world that might be transferred to California.
Martin: I’ll start with this, that one of things I see that’s not working is we’ve it seems to me that our policies that are created in response to the drought which I think is some sense and to define what our focus and our focus is trying to have sustainable water for, you know, in perpetuity, a sustainability being a perpetual not 20 years or whatever and it just seems to me that the policies that we’ve implement mainly I think because but they’re so reactive don’t necessarily lead to the outcome that we’re actually trying to accomplish. For example a straight percentage of the reduction on water use from municipalities, that will reduce the incentive to actually conserve… to implement and spend on water conservation. Cause if I say, I can spend a lot of money to save water and then I’m not able to use it because I’m require to reduce my percentage use It doesn’t matter that I have a use for it, I’m just mandated a certain percentage reduction. So why do I have to do invest a bunch of money in saving, you know, additional water when I’ve not able to use that. I have no return on investment.
Unknown Male1: Yes, that’s very true, and that’s one of the key factors that people do not understand that water and money are intricately related. And so all the discussions about water and water savings but anything around water needs to create financial value as what people are getting. So we really appreciate your comments. There’s no financial incentive. Nobody’s really going to sense it later.
Jack: Martin, this is Jack Burton speaking, do you also think that sort of speaks to the dichotomous nature of how the business model of the utility is set up and the challenge of being able to, you know, expand infrastructure or deal with this changes and at the same time needing to sell water but then on the other hand needing to create this culture of conservation
Unknown Male 1: It make sense, it make sense. So comes down to all agree first on the value of water that’s the big problem.
Martin: We set emotional value on it but we’re not willing to set objective economic value on it, and one of the reasons is because our concern about social equity. Well you’ll said a certain amount that says hey, this is how much is reasonable for human consumption that will answer somewhat you still got to answer the question about so are we good for indefinite population growth?
Unknown Male 1: Well, it just have to admit Israel and Denmark, Israel being the number one [unintelligible] people of all by Denmark and while you have this nations who have citizens who consider themselves water citizens where you have water law, we have a water economy, you’ll see that that water prices are the highest but these are the nations that function and they have a water surplus and then highest conservation rate so all comes down to fixing a proper price to water.
Jack: Agreed. So the first challenge is, this is Jack, the first challenge is actually get the public to understand that they’re paying that’s incredibly subsidize price for water and then try to ease people into what would be the real price of it ?
Unknown Male 1: No, the first challenge is as it came out in the webinar is to educate the public because we have moral literacy and we have financial literacy. So people first of all have to understand and practice to appreciate and manage water wisely. By nature that’s only going to happen once people run out of water and as Benjamin Franklin said in 1746, when the tap runs dry, we know the value of water. So this is the process you can try proactively, but unfortunately also has to be fortified you know by nature crisis and scarcity and lack of water for people to realize the true value of water.
Jack: Yes education is the first step but they were great point made this. Not just water education. One of the biggest problems that we have both way we’re talking about elected officials, appointed or the public is that there’s a lack of understanding of financial and economics and so when you saw you start to try to connect the cost of water with the value of water what it takes to get there, you know, you tried to talk about the liability is differed maintenance, people understand accrued liability so it’s right now I think there’s a lack of.. in the public understanding and awareness, both in the sense of the value of water but also in terms of public does not understand that finance and economics I mean understand what the most.. water .. saying, water on the rights the value of the entire built environment.
Unknown Male 1: Very true, very true.
Martin: lose water and your businesses have no value, your homes have no value, all of the money you spend on it infrastructure has no value, well, almost no value it has some limited residual values but it’s actual value that we place on it now is lost in substantial amount, if you lose water.
Unknown Male 1: Very true. And in 2015 we’re going to have because of the water scarcity, we’re going to have 45% of global GDP which is drawn at 73 trillion impacted by water scarcity. It’s 45% of Global GDP
Elizabeth Cassidy: This is Elizabeth Cassidy one of the things I think that would be really helpful in both education and in a practical solution is teaching both ourselves public and water agencies about water budgets. And then people go through here’s how I spend my water in my house. Here’s how we spend our water in our water agency. In California, one of the things that’s happening is that Water Agencies are taking this opportunity to enliven rights that they had but just never used I’ll just take the case of Dispe Municipal Water District here in the bay area. And they are now accessing water from a new source, [unintelligible] water transfer and they’re not just using that water for customers, but they’re actually selling that water to other agencies. in order to make up for the loss of income. and so, looking at what water is coming in, and literally how are we spending that water. And I think that if you teach people to do that in their own home, then they get the sense that water is of value. They start looking I’m going to take it one more level they start looking at what is the best water to use for that end use. So say they’re doing their landscape, well is potable water full of chlorine really the best water to use for their landscape? No it’s rainwater, it’s grey water. And then you start attaching your water budget to the best water sources. Which enables a greater diversification of water sources on a local level.
Unknown Male 1: That is true but the..
Brett: I wish we actually attached metrics to how we used our water, so we would look at all of our economics in terms of for example State of California, and say here’s our total water portfolio and here’s the GDP per acre foot for this economic activity, and we start to look at how we invest our water in terms of the return on that investment as a limited resource.
Elizabeth: One other thing that I wanted to add to that. So I notice that in this conversation we’re not talking about water at all for the ecosystem. So we’re talking about water only as it is needed by humans. And another part of the water budget is keeping enough water in the rivers, in the ground, to support the ecosystem that is continuing to produce that water. So we have this you just like sort of like quarter terms in economics. We have quarter terms in water and we’re not really looking at well if we continue to take 80% of the river out, out of the river, out of the watershed. What is it going to do to the watershed ultimately? So great we have water for now but will that water shed still have the capacity to continue to produce water, even if we only care about us, we don’t care about a number of species on the planet. We’re undercutting ourselves by not taking care of the water that we’re the watersheds that we’re depending upon. Until our water budgets have to expand not just for human consumption and human use but for the maintenance and health of the watershed.
Brett: Exactly agreed.
Unknown Male 1: I need to backtrack quickly because you are leaving something out of the equation. I’m from Unknown Male 1y. In Unknown Male 1y everything is metered. The only way to create efficiency is if you know what you actually consume. So you need to first have laws in place that provide for proper metering and monitoring of the water, otherwise you cannot really implement efficiency. So that’s the first thing. So I live in Santa Monica for example, and it’s a six unit building I’m living in, and not one of the 6 units has separate metering. So the landlord has to foot the bill. So if I just want to be vicious, and run the shower for 48 hours, there’s nothing the landlord can do. So this needs to change first and every water outlet needs to be metered by law.
Elizabeth: I could not agree more and I as a public educator about water conservation and water use where I always start it by asking people first where their water comes from and second how much water they use everyday. Because it is amazing.. amazing how few people can tell you how many gallons they use. Even though it’s right there on their water bill, for those of us who are metered. And that bit of information, just like anything, if you don’t meter what you use, how will you ever know that you’re saving? I mean that I think that’s a it’s unfortunately a really obvious but unused form of education.
Brett: It does have an interesting and complication to it. Because they we’re working on a law to do exactly that in California, the complication is already you know as a mutual agency that we have I mean, our meter of accuracy is that is important to us because is the media aware that it actually builds less not more and so we’re monitoring and tracking trying to make sure it’s accurate and doing what it’s supposed to do for revenue purposes but when you start to install meters on private systems which they would be on an apartment, now the landlord is responsible, or someone’s responsible for making sure that meter is accurate. And so you have we already get complaints about inaccuracies you know, as municipalities now you’ve multiplied that by a factor of I don’t know, a hundred or a thousand maybe more meters and who’s going to be responsible to make sure those are accurate and that they’re actually doing what they’re suppose we doing in the reading what they’re supposed to be reading in. You’ll get a lot of issues that way and when you start to require that you have to have, okay, so now it’s going to have to be someone who’s going to regulate that in and what sort of bureaucracy inside of a bureaucracy would be required to regulate that ad infinitum. So, I’m not saying it’s not a good idea, I’m just saying that sometimes the best made plans are fraught with unintended consequences.
Unknown Male 1: Electricity is metered, so you know water is just another utility, I don’t see that as challenge.
Jake: That’s what I’m afraid of that they’ll make it the city’s responsibility and we are already having trouble. See the thing is that electricity is managed a different way as managed by a commission and did just say how much their cost is and they add a percentage to it and that’s how their rates are set.
Unknown Female: Yeah I don’t have a diseased attitude, I actually really feel like that this is our time to shine, you know, I really feel that we’re at push comes to shove and you know, the sense of it does feel that there’s an spot light on this area in particular, I feel that we have incredible opportunity to you, you know, tackle the issues that we’re facing because you’re right, this is a microcosm of, you know, a microcosmic example of what we are dealing with globally and I think that we have an incredible opportunity to set an example. I just, you know, I just to go to these meetings and I see what’s being said and I kind of, you know, that will sometimes dampen my enthusiasm but the thing, you know, I’m one of many people on this area that’s ready for this for the climb. I want to call it a fight. I’m ready for it.
Brett: Well you sound fairly young, how many other young people, young leaders are involved down there to say, okay, let’s not you know. You all can fight about this but let’s solve this and I mean.
Brett: I heard some people in the Nebraska, Pennsylvania, in California with people working on Sacramento, San Joaquin, delta issues talking about the connections between surface waters and ground water and how…there’s 2 resources have been manage separately in most of the country for many years but there’s been a recent move lately among river base in the West and elsewhere to connect those resources as do. Since one of that, you know, several conversations we had looking at the California’s problem is not just a California problem but more as a national or international problem.
Carl: Excellent and if Bob is still with us, I believe he is. Bob I’d love to hear what popped-up in your conversations? What you were hearing?
Bob: Oh boy, interesting conversations all the way around the role of building trust and opening communication sharing values, it’s very much a process and human can mention __. The interesting geographic spread from folks from a Germany and other parts of Europe to various parts of the United States, feeling a little bit guilty because we in California often focused so much in California with that so many problems we’ve created… we’d forget that it’s a much bigger sense and Circle of Blue is good in covering the broader spectrum as well, so apologies for the California’s centricity on some of the conversation.
Carl: No, I really appreciate that and, you know, it’s really a systemic thinking too. I know it’s not just the Colorado River Base and it’s not just Ogallala, it’s not just California is what coming out in case group, you know, global situation. Nadine, I, you know, hope you enjoyed your visits, you know, what were some of the things popping up that you were hearing?
Nadine: Okay. So just to kind of tie everything together, it was really good to hear some of the perspective from the Tulare Basin, you know, the issues people that are just now hitting that wall and I’ve been there, I started out in resources of a logger’s life, so I’ve been through the spotted out worst and I know what it’s like to see your community disappear and the values that you hold dear be called in the question, so I guess, I’d just like to encourage people that are out there working on these issues. Find some people that don’t think like you or agree with you and sit down with them and good to know them and find out what their concerns are because it’s that type of learning about a place and learning about an issue that will give you a greater perspective and you may never agree with that person but you will become richer in knowledge specially in the resource called for by learning from people whose values are different than yours are. And just never forget that as Margarett Meads said, what committed groups of people can accomplish and they can accomplish much. You’ve look at what we’ve done here in the Sacramento Valley and the bird habitat and the healthy fisheries and we work together, we may not agree with each other but we try to work together so that what the place that we live, our grandchildren will be even better than the one that we have. And will El Niño solve our problems? No, I think El Niño may exacerbate our problems assure of it, if we get a heavy rain fall, so and that should remind all of us that don’t keep so caught up on the issues that you forget to look up to the hillside for the rain was falling and just keep on trying. I applaud all of you that are working on these issues because they’re not easy and I’m available with any help that I give for your groups that are just starting out to try to solve some of these problems. Thank you for doing this.
Carl: Really appreciate that, thank you. And just also a quick reminder somebody who will be up probably all night waiting for the official El Niño report, is Steven. Steven what were you hearing in your groups?
Steven: What I was hearing was…and it was a great variety of different voices and different perspectives with different takes on the water issue because I think Bob said it correctly that, you know, in California we’ve gotten so tunnel visioned I guess, about our own crisis unfolding which certainly is dyer but it’s not the only thing that’s happening in the world and the Circle of Blue that you guys cast a spotlight on, so it was particularly gratifying to hear from Rochelle in Nebraska and John in Pennsylvania about your places, you know, that I think of as certainly Pennsylvania has more water than California typically does. In Nebraska, you know, I mean nothing can go on both ways but it was interesting to hear how, you know, different states are trying some different things to manage their water in a better way and I feel like there are some lessons certainly for California as we grow in population and as we become probably warmer and dryer, giving planet models and, you know, and I think that this drought has really been a really sharp wake up call for the state and I think the hope is that, you know, we as a state can move forward and put in place some policies, some thinking, some attitude, adjustments that will kind of curious forward in the drought of flood cycle that we’re like to experience moving forward. So, I was really gratified to hear folks offering, you know, different perspectives on how to achieve that.
Brett: This is Brett here of Circle of Blue, site one wrap up question for Bob and Nadine, California is still in an emergency situation. We’ve talk about some changes that can be made but I’m wondering, for Bob and Nadine what will be you’re be looking at here in the next month or 2 months as summer comes to an end and the end of the dry season wraps up and the beginning of might hope to be a wet season comes a promise. So, what are you most concern about here at the end of summer in 2015?
Bob: Let’s see, you know, there’s very relief into about long term major problems in just a couple of months, I think to the extent people can build a better understanding of the systems from the upper water sheds as makings all the way down through the flood points, how we use water, how we try to store, that includes really got to do a lot of rethink in terms of our logic on ground water management, on surface water management, on watershed management, water efficiency and so forth. So, I think part of this is continuing the process. People understands the system better so whatever happens in the fall, recycled water still dry. We have a better sense of our options and what we need to do to move forward.
Brett: Nadine, what are you looking at here at the end of the summer season, things that people should be paying attention to?
Nadine: Well, we’ve had thousands of acres burn and so, you know, one of the things I’m going to be doing is encouraging people specially local communities to get out there and do what they can for settlement control, you know, don’t wait for government to get a grant. Send people out there but, you know, if you’ve got ways to monitor that and make sure that some of the damaged can be averted, go ahead specially on private land because of, you know, watching what happen on the Calamus River was frightening and once set soil is gone, it’s gone forever. So, were going to have to have people as soon as the fire’s are out looking at how do we ensure that watershed if the rain start in November that we have some way to protect them.
Brett: And by that, what you’re referring to that?
Nadine: Well, you know, huge rain storm on areas that are burnt specially were the soil has gotten so hot with some of these fires that it’s turned it into a almost to ceramic sheet, so the water heats that and instead of going in gently or having trees to break the fall it heats that and starts running at the rapid pace downhill and then it finds the weakness and that end will start new channels and holds thousands of tons of soil off the hillside and put it right then in the creek which is our drinking water and our salmon habitat and that’s what happen on the Calamus River this summer. So with that just one rain event. So if this is an El Niño year, like and we get a pineapple express that comes in we’ve got literally right now thousands of acres burning in Northern California, so it is going to be a tremendous job to ensure that slope stability of some of this mountain sides.
Brett: Excellent, we’ll certainly pay attention to fire itself, the flames [Inaudible 02:46:08.23] but we will follow up with what happen in the aftermath, the sedimentation in reservoirs and rivers can affect drinking water systems downstream. So thank you Nadine.
Brett: And thank you Bob. After now we’re going to turn it over to Ben Roberts, who’s going to guide us to the next section.
Ben: Thank you very much, Brett and Carl. So we’d love to get some input from participants as well as our experts here on your take aways on today’s call. If you’re on social webinar you’ll now see that there is a form that you can complete right there in your social webinar browser. So we’re going to pause for about 5 minutes to let you do this. Intro sounds will turn on the guitar music then we’ll come back and hear some spoken highlights from a few of you as well in the time that we have remaining and then a few closing words from our host. So we’re looking on this form and if you’re not on the social webinar form that’s fine, you can write this down on some other place and just email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, but if you’re on the form that’s great, you can go ahead and start filling that in right now. We’re looking for what some of your key take aways are from today’s Town Hall. If you live in California or if you live elsewhere, either way. And also, what key questions do you think need to be answered in order to adapt to the new normals and that’s going to be feeding to our conversations next week on that subject. And then as an optional addition here, if there’s a story, an important story that you know of, that is not being told, tell us a little bit about that and perhaps leave your name and some contact information and there is a possibility that we will then be following up with you on that story, if it seems like it something that is worthy of reporting. So, here’s your chance to help break important news in the context of this urgent situation as well. So we’re just going to pause for just a few minutes and much you go ahead and complete the surveys. You’ll notice in the upper left of social webinar, it says open link in new tab that’s just to the right of MaestroConference and underneath the words Catalyst California, if you click that it’ll open up into a new browser window and that will stay open even after the call is over. Otherwise when you hang up this form will disappear. We’ll just give you a little bit of silence now to work on this. We’d love to hear from everybody on the call, just some of your key takeaways and key questions and then we’ll hear some spoken shares will come back in just a couple of minutes for that.
Carl: And it’s Carl here for just a second and this is really important particularly as we setting up the rest of the conversations and as we’re going into World Water Week in Stockholm and the One Water Leadership Summit in San Francisco, we do need your feedback here and stay with us too for more details about the upcoming events.
Felicia: Yeah, I thought that was great, I had trouble deciding as I went back and forth to the three breakout groups I could to get to and each one was better than the next, it was great. I heard what my colleagues talked about but also it really was amazing to have folks talk about other areas and how much we can learn from each other. I also love coming into a very thoughtful conversation that we had gotten to in the early part about set for purpose water, how.. we really have some thoughts, some decisions to make about how to more efficiently use water. Now I have water but for green house guest purposes and that the idea of treating everything to Kristine (inaudible), so we can dump on our lawns and flush our toilets may not be the way to go but I think if we keep an eye on moving forward we are going to be able to enter an arena of experimentation and action on moving forward on how to solve our problems. Is there anything I heard which are remarkable amount of optimism that I’m very appreciative of it, it started with Kevin right in the beginning of the talk that I’ve been through the conversation are very a “I can do” and I need to figure out how to come together and solve for all the things that all Californian and all people need which includes ecosystem and agriculture and urban needs and right by thinking more creatively about water and so a whole series of those conversations and it really mean here what I like to call the coalition of the willing of people who want to move forward or sustain and stay, so I thank you setting this table, even though there are challenges, even a very thoughtful young woman from [02:53:46.16] who felt it was a shower note because people don’t trust government, of course people don’t trust government, I’m afraid of government, I think for us part of it is trying to make good on that, promise but I thought her insight and thoughtfulness made my day, so thank you all very much for including me in.
Carl: Great, well thank you for joining us it’s been a terrific couple of hours here. We keep asking will El Niño save the day and we’re asking that because people are asking us and I guess we’ll all discuss that next week and answer the question. So again, we really hope you’ll join us next week and invite your colleagues to find out really what’s next for California and the nation. And as we heard earlier too, what happens in California is an indicator for what’s happening in other parts of the world. Big conversations about valuing water. Big conversations about climate change. We’ll also have another round of special guests, that will include Martin Adams, from L.A. Water and Power, Michael Anderson who’s the Climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources, Richard Luthy who’s Director of the Reinventing the Nations Urban Water Infrastructure Research Group, another big issue nationally, Molly Peterson, Environment Reporter from Southern California Public Radio and we’ll also be joined by Sandra Postel, Director of the Global Water Policy Project, so a terrific line up for next Tuesday and really hope you’ll join us.
Elizabeth: Yeah, one of the things that really concerns me is that we’re not yet really talking about unsafe water management. It sounded in many of the conversations like we were talking about large scale, infrastructural, responses and solutions. When a lot of our solutions whether we’re on the residential, commercial or institutional scale are going to be onsite water management which is slowly and I want it emphasize slowly but surely making its way up through the system, you know, San Francisco has been working on a number of large bed incorporate onsite water management as one of the tools for water supply, water conservation and then for managing storm water and I’m really hoping that in the ongoing conversations in this group and in general, that people will start thinking a lot more that rainwater and greywaters capacity, I always like to say the less that rains the more we need to harvest rain water. And so, I’m really hoping that this will enter into the conversation a lot more.
Jack: Yes, you know, I completely agree with Elizabeth than in part because I have (inaudible) business but I’ve seen the challenges in educating people water is invisible, it comes out of the faucet and it goes down the drain and so, radical but I feel from being in the systems business that decades have centralized water distribution as in part let you (inaudible) around water after seeing and I’ve seen the aha moments of children that are doing water budgets for their school gardens and utilizing system and really taking rain fall be able to retool their relationship with water, so I’m going to agree that it can be impart. Some of the decentralized tools of repurposing waste water and storm water and rain water to be able to add to that education component. Thanks very much.
John: Okay, really just to reiterate the water harvesting for the rain water. We’ve been doing it county wide in Pennsylvania for the last 5 years. Lots down to 3,000 sq. ft. have to have a water plan to reduce, detain rain water primarily but it’s perfectly applicable just for a water capture out there and increase the residential water. It takes a long time I sat through 2 years of conferences on a monthly basis so we’re able to put it together or just stand on one county and to be (inaudible) has been working at for probably, I think they’re about recorder’s of the way through the state now that have done. So it is a good idea.
Carl: This has just been terrific and for the great facilitation but this is really a global conversation in California inaudible a lot we can learn and again that’s what we’ll be doing next week and the weeks to come. We’ll be comparing and looking at what we can learn from California and what California can learn from the world. But I really need to offer special thanks to our guests for sharing their time and expertise today and in addition to all of the thought leaders who participated on the calls, Felicia Marcus, Nadine Bailey, Steven Gregory, Kevin Klowden, Bob Wilkinson and of course to the Circle of Blue Team here behind the scenes, we’ve had quite a team monitoring social media and taking your questions and setting us up for next week. So on the team Laura Herd has been our Catalyst Producer today, Brett Walton, our reporter in the field, of course Keith Schneider, Matt Welch, Aubrey Parker, Jordan Bates, Kaye LaFond, Miranda Cawley and Connor Bebb, everybody’s been working hard here and I also want to thank all of our partners in producing this, the Milken Institute, The Pacific Institute and the Stockholm International Water Institute and World Water Week, there’ll be your host on the 25th and you’ll be hearing more from them in the next week or so as well. School Global Trust Fund, thank you for reaching out for us and the driving the global conversation and U. S. Water Alliance, The University of California Center for Hydrologic Modeling and our good friends at the Law Firm Center China Environment Forum. And special thanks to American Public Media, Southern California Public Radio and to our home station where we’re sitting right now Interlochen Public Radio and lastly to the MaestroConference Team, Brian, Ben, Charlie and Aubrey. The technology that makes us very cool conversation possible and then some urgent conversation. And we hope to see you and even more colleagues again here next week, Tuesday, August 18th for an even deeper exploration and what comes next for California and the nation. Please follow the results online, you’ll see results from this call and the past once and then of course results as we go down the line here at circleofblue.org and h2ocatalyst.org, that’s our sub site for these calls.
So until then, I’m J Carl Ganter at Circle of Blue and thanks for joining us.
Steve Gregory is KPCC’s Environment and Science Editor. He joined KPCC’s editorial ranks in 2013. Prior to that, he was an editor at Marketplace for eight years. There, Steve oversaw coverage of Washington and the 2012 presidential race. He also produced a series of on-location interviews between host Kai Ryssdal and CEOs such as Eric Schmidt, Elon Musk, Meg Whitman, and Bob Iger as well as a special series on climate change.
Kevin Klowden is managing director of the Milken Institute’s California Center and a managing economist at the Institute. He specializes in the study of demographic and spatial factors (the distribution of resources, business locations, and movement of labor) and how these are influenced by public policy and in turn affect regional economies. His key areas of focus include technology-based development, infrastructure, the global economy, media and entertainment.
Felicia Marcus was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to the State Water Resources Control Board for the State of California in 2012, and designated by the Governor as Chair in April of 2013. The Board implements both federal and state laws regarding drinking water and water quality, and it implements the state’s water rights laws. The Board sets statewide water quality, drinking water, and water rights policy, hears appeals of local regional board water quality decisions, decides water rights disputes, and provides financial assistance to communities to upgrade water infrastructure.
Dr. Robert C. Wilkinson is Adjunct Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, and Senior Lecturer Emeritus in the Environmental Studies Program, at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Dr. Wilkinson’s teaching, research, and consulting focus is on water and energy policy, climate change, and environmental policy issues. Dr. Wilkinson is also a Senior Fellow with the Rocky Mountain Institute and the California Council on Science and Technology. He co-chairs the U.S. Sustainable Water Resources Roundtable and has served as an advisor to the State of Victoria, Australia, the Water and Energy Team for the California Climate Action Team, the California State Water Plan, and agencies including the California Energy Commission, the California State Water Resources Control Board, the California Department of Water Resources, and others on water, energy, and climate issues.