09 December 2016

California's Water Problem

Posted to the State of California Governor's "write to the Governor" web page, December 2016.

Governor Brown,
Being as you're a smart guy, Governor, you probably recognize a fundamental truth of California's water situation that eludes most people:

We don't have a water problem. We have an economics problem.

And you could solve the problem with the bold move that I recommend:

Nationalize (state-ize?) ALL of the water in California. Meaning the water in California, under California, and all water that enters California via river or rain/snow.

Water rights would be fully protected, in that rights holders still get their allocations. But the water BELONGS to the people of California, and we're happy to SET A PRICE at which farmers, cities, anybody who wants, can purchase water. $1 per AF? $5? That money will flow to the State to pay for (a) the bureaucracy needed to administer the program, and (b) investment in water conservation and smart usage. Water users still pay whatever they're paying now for storage, transport, canals, pumping, etc., but they also pay us good people of California a fixed price per acre foot. 

This would be a huge disruption to all kinds of existing users and processes, but it would address and arguably solve the biggest single problem about water from which all the other problems flow: it's free. By putting a price on it, even in the heavy-handed way that only a state/nation can manage, you will create a base price for water that will--eventually--force inefficient and stupid uses and users of water to go away.  

Despite the fact that making such a proclamation would make you the most hated and reviled and heroic and loved governor in our state history, I don't feel I should charge you for this excellent suggestion. 

I think you've done a good job in your second stint as governor (though what's up with that bullet train?), and wish you well in the remainder of your term. You would be a hero for the ages if you could solve California's water problem, and claiming OUR water as belonging to us would--I believe--solve the problem. It would take a few years to sort itself out, but it could work.

Sincerely and best regards,

Ty Griffin
San Luis Obispo

No comments: