PBS: Governor Jerry Brown on California Water Shortage

April 1, 2015

Los Angeles Times:

In 1977, amid one of California’s most severe droughts, the Metropolitan Water District proposed a “model” ordinance to penalize repeat water wasters with “a fine of up to $300 or 30 days in jail or both,” according to Los Angeles Times articles.

Many of the outlawed uses were similar to the restrictions being imposed during the current drought: Residents were barred from hosing down sidewalks and driveways, watering during peak hours and refilling fountains and pools.

Those suspected of violating the 1977 ordinance would be served a written notice and, if they continued to ignore the law, local water agencies could limit their water flow – or turn it off altogether. A second offense constituted a misdemeanor. Local police agencies enforced the law, which the city of Los Angeles adopted, according to Times reporting.

Faced with another drought in 1990, local water agencies again adopted emergency regulations. The Central Basin Municipal Water District considered an ordinance that would have made “wasteful water practices” a misdemeanor, publishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in county jail. In Northern California, a Marin County rationing plan called for a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail for repeat offenders.

State Department of Water Resources spokesman Doug Carlson said he did not know of any cases of people put behind bars for water waste, but he did not rule out the possibility that it had happened.

He would not speculate on what it would take to impose jail time on profligate water waters during the current drought.

“But I can imagine that it might happen,” he said, “if the water conditions continue to degrade to an unprecedented level.”

12 Responses to “PBS: Governor Jerry Brown on California Water Shortage”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Good luck Jerry! Let’s see, the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge and the drought persist, the winter rains failed, the snowpack is only 5% of what is usually is, and we’re going to cut back 25% on urban/residential water use, but still let the farmers drill deeper even though we have no idea what’s happening to the ground water? Oh, wait! We are just now implementing a study of CA groundwater and we have that pole in the San Joaquin valley that shows ground subsidence, so we ARE on top of it!

    Can you say “whistling past the graveyard”, children?

    • No mention of need to drastically cut back on water used in meat production of all kinds–what a waste!
      See http://www.cowspiracy.com for an eye-opener.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Cutting back on water use for meat production is a long way down the road, unfortunately. We will have to have a veggie shortage crisis and skyrocketing food prices before anyone pays attention. The biggest water using crop in CA is alfalfa, which is grown for cattle feed and largely exported to other states.

        Just received a copy of the UCS pub “Cooler Smarter—Practical steps for low-carbon living”—it was a bonus for renewing membership. Haven’t read it yet, but did flip through and looked at the graphic data—it’s loaded with graphs and charts.

        Fig. 7.2 is a “Comparison of global warming emissions by food type”, which parallels the water needed for each to some extent, especially in places like CA that need to pump so much agricultural water. In actuality, the figures for water needed per pound of a particular food are are way up there, especially nuts and meat—-something like 500 gallons for one pistachio or almond and thousands of gallons for one burger—-the figures are easy to find on the web.

        From Fig.7.2 Pounds of GHG emissions per pound of food:
        Red meat 5.74
        Chicken 2.69
        Fish 1.85
        Vegetables 1.60
        Bread .53
        Pasta .32

        So the “Eat Mor Chiken” campaign is environmentally sound (sort of). You’d be more environmentally friendly if you ate more pizza and spaghetti (meat free sauces, of course).

        • Gingerbaker Says:

          “the figures are easy to find on the web. ”

          And probably wrong.

          Thousands of gallons for a single hamburger?! Ridiculous.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Ridiculous? And PROBABLY wrong? Why didn’t you go look them up instead of grabbing your sticks and beating your drum?

            If you google “how much water does it take to produce a hamburger?” the very first hit will say “4,000 to 18,000 gallons, depending….”


            Going down the “hit list” you will find the WSJ shilling for the cattle industry and pooh-poohing figures that high. They go as low as 100 gallons.


            Yet another estimate comes from the EPA. “Let’s take the cheeseburger I had for lunch yesterday, for example. Estimates are that a 1/3 pound burger requires 660 gallons of water to be produced, most of which is for the beef. One pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons, a pound of cheese requires 700 gallons, and two slices of bread require 22 gallons”. (and a pound of lettuce takes 13 gallons)

            Remember, we’re talking “virtual water” here and there’s a lot of room for BS.

  2. andrewfez Says:

    They wasted a lot of money, throwing up traffic announcements on the 101, and on bus advertizements, telling people to save water. No one did. A lot of it is landscaping junk for restaurants, Bank of America, etc., and around here, everybody has a pool out back. It’s March; it’s in the 80’s; those pools are evaporating 24/7 as if the summer were already upon us.

    It’s time to give up some of our farming, at let some other states do it locally; get more in touch with seasonal items.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Read a book on water usage and conservation a month ago. Name escapes me, but it was an eye opener. Many places in CA ARE making strides with water conservation, mainly by recyling treated sewage, and more can be done there. One good-sized city sells ALL its treated sewage to another city, spent tens of millions to build the pipeline, and makes a good buck off it.

      The “landscaping junk” discussions in the book were jaw-dropping. St. Petersburg FL was given as an example. 30,000 gallons a WEEK to water the typical suburban lawn there. That’s as much water as my wife and i use in an entire YEAR—-we are billed by the even 1000 gallons and alternate between 2 and 3 thousand gallons each month—-and that DOES include watering my big trees (but not my lawn) when rain is scarce and power washing the walks and north side of the house when they get grungy.

      Another thing that shocked me was that places like St, Petersburg have programs ro reimburse homeowners who get rid of their lawns and replace them with rocks, astroturf, or low water use plantings—-up to several thousand dollars per lawn.

      As far as “other states doing it locally” goes. You will have to kill me and pry my bag of CA grown pistachios out of my cold dead hands. They won’t grow in VA, and I am a good patriotic ‘Murican who doesn’t mind that it took a swimming pool full of water to grow my one pound bag. I also want to support the greedy rich growers who don;t give a rat’s behind about water tomorrow as long as they can get rich today. You’re in ‘Murica, boy—-don’t start talking like some commie!

      (PS Nostalgia break. Is anyone old enough to remember getting red fingers and lips from eating Zenobia pistachios? They were grown by Iranians, who used to be our friends).

      • andrewfez Says:

        Florida is rather unprogressive when it comes to lawns: There was something a few years ago, where a couple got fined for growing vegetables in their yard. Whatever town or city they were in didn’t like it, and in the end they had to disassemble their crops. They fined someone else for living off the grid too, if I recall right (like they built their house without installing power lines to tap into the grid).

        When I drive towards San Bernadino, I always notice they’re installing drip irrigation on the ‘lawns’ around highway exit ramps. There’s some obsession with having flowers and shrubs to look at when driving down the highway in that area. They probably get it from Palm Desert or Palm Springs, just down the road, where a bunch of ‘artificial’ greenery grows, so that its occupants’ can show off their wealth.

        We’ll start with the almonds first as they say they take 10% of CA’s water. I remember red pistachios, but i didn’t know there was an Iranian connection. That section of the world now imports 4x more grain than it produces, with peak productions occurring decades ago, so i imagine any nuts coming out of there are something of a luxury these days.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          From the Zenobia website:

          “Turkish and California pistachios are generally the only varieties available to us in the United States. Iranian pistachios have been unavailable since the mid-1980s, when the California pistachio industry convinced the U.S. government that Iran was “dumping” its pistachios here at below-market prices”.

          And the other “issues” with Iran have helped keep them out (although the “greedy rich” growers probably spread a lot of campaign cash around to make sure). Iran is the “motherland” of commercial pistachios, and perhaps we’ll see them imported from there again once the issues are “settled”, and especially if CA runs out of water.

          I hate to say it, but Californians appear to have their heads in the dark place about water. The WashPost has been writing more and more about it lately. Editorial yesterday points out that a typical CA suburbanite uses nearly 60,000 gallons of water a year—FOUR times what I use—-although San Franciscans use
          only only a bit more than I do (because of fewer lawns).

          Lengthy article in today’s Post and articles by Chris Mooney on how “Psychology may be more effective than rationing…” and another on “In the west, complicated water rules….” (Didn’t want to run afoul of WP’s “too many links” problem and get “moderated”—google them—–all three are worth reading).

          Environmental groups are saying that the rules are OK but are aimed at homeowners and give farmers a pass, the farmers are saying NO NO, the sod growers are screaming (just like coal miners) that they’re going to be put out of business. The whole state is “going Disneyland”.


  3. kookaburra2 Says:

    Water restrictions in Australia are now a way of life. People have learnt not waste and to conserve water. As a result many houses have water catchment systems and lawns have been replaced by native species which naturally thrive. Recently I was surprised by one Aussie ladie’s water thriftyness. An avid tea drinker for 60 years switched from using her favorite tea pot to tea bags because they use less water. She had already installed water catchment for her veggie garden, and solar panels etc. But those tea bags were a huge sacrifice!

  4. There are alternatives to the way we do things – agriculture, that is. Here’s an eye opener that even the organic emperor has no clothes:


    I support organic ag – as local as possible – as it is a step away from as much reliance on fossil fuels, but it is still an unsustainable practice at present. I don’t hear the governor saying much that sounds sustainable. Making cuts and increasing efficiency is a step towards living within a water budget but I fear it is too little too late.

  5. […] VIDEO: PBS: Governor Jerry Brown on California Water Shortage (Climate Crocks) […]

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