So where should we start? Well, it seems like the first place to look would be California’s water plan. The Department of Water Resources released its latest water plan update
in 2005. This plan is over 200 pages long and lays out three scenarios for future water demand. Based on these scenarios they provide water management recommendations for the next 25 years. The next update will be released next year.
While the 2005 update acknowledges the need to increase urban and agricultural water use efficiency and eliminate groundwater overdraft, the DWR’s projections and recommendations anticipate only limited adoption of efficiency measures. Even their most efficient scenario shows increases in urban water use, and only slight decrease (5-10%) in agricultural water use. The Pacific Institute pointed out that “The current DWR plan intentionally includes only modest urban and agricultural efficiency improvements….These estimates are nowhere near the levels already demonstrated to be technologically available and largely cost-effective today.”
In September 2005 the Pacific Institute released a parallel report, “California Water 2030: An Efficient Future.”
This report presents a “High Efficiency” scenario “in which Californians maximize our ability to do the things we want, while minimizing the amount of water required to satisfy those desires.” They employed the same model the DWR used to generate their three water demand scenarios, but modified the assumptions about adoption of existing water-efficiency technologies and using water prices to incentivize conservation. They found that water use in 2030 could actually be 20% below 2000 levels, even with a growing population and economy. Agricultural water use could be reduced by 20% by expanding efficient irrigation methods, but “without reducing crop area or changing crop type from the official state Current Trends scenario.” Some of their other recommended actions include:Pricing
Eliminate pricing policies that subsidize inefficient use of water;
Implement new rate structures that encourage efficient use of water;Appliances
Set new water efficiency standards for residential and commercial appliances;
Offer rebates for the purchase of these appliances;
Create a statewide system of water data monitoring and exchange;
Make comprehensive water use data publicly available;
Implement comprehensive local groundwater monitoring and management programs statewide;
Create a system that provides farmers with immediate hydrological and meteorological information;Buildings
Link water & development – before developments are approved require that they demonstrate water-efficient building design.