Feds Get Tough on California Water Use

After years of excessive water use in California and a lack of a conservation plan, the federal government has responded sternly by officially reducing the flow of surplus water to the state from the Colorado River. If California can agree upon a formal plan to reduce its water consumption by 2015, as it pledged to the Clinton administration, the Dept.

02/01/2003


After years of excessive water use in California and a lack of a conservation plan, the federal government has responded sternly by officially reducing the flow of surplus water to the state from the Colorado River.

If California can agree upon a formal plan to reduce its water consumption by 2015, as it pledged to the Clinton administration, the Dept. of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation will turn the tap back on. But in the meantime, the other western states that benefit from this natural resource—with the exception of Nevada—are entitled to their fair share of water, says the government. Nevada, coincidentally, has also been overdrawing its allotted amount and may be denied close to 10% of its portion without a better plan for conservation.

One California organization—the irrigation district of Imperial Valley, whose farmers are not keen on losing 7% of their water—has responded by suing the Bush administration. The group is demanding clarification on how much authority the federal government has to reduce allocations and force water deals.

Another state entity, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, stands to lose 415,000 acre-feet of water, which is 50% of its annual allotment. In anticipation of such a predicament, the district has saved up 2 million acre-feet of water in storage. At the same time, the district is expected to revive its plans to build desalination plants, which would turn sea water into tap water.

On the other hand, Orange County's local aquifer is low due to four years of below-average rainfall. Consequently, building owners and residents have been warned of a 14% water bill increase, combined with a request to reduce water consumption by 10%, until the aquifer can be replenished.





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