Rationing of water is not the solution
Mandatory water rationing is a futile act that merely postpones the inevitable: no water!
Without a practical and workable plan to increase available water supplies, no amount of rationing will achieve anything of value.
What must be done is to create real solutions to the recurring problem of drought in California. While desalination and increased storage are good answers, they may not, by themselves, create long-lasting and beneficial solutions.
To reach a permanent solution, we may have to think outside the box. The states of Washington and Oregon may provide an outside-the-box answer to California's constant need for water.
Every year, these two states incur massive rainfall that results in billions of dollars of flood damage. Why not help them build a system of reservoirs, dams and distribution to capture these floodwaters and transport them to California? This would result in a serendipity solution to all three states.
Expensive? You bet! But the return on investment of such a plan would quickly pay for the system and realize huge benefits for all involved.
Measures must be applied fairly
I strongly support all efforts at water conservation and have voluntarily restricted my family's water usage as much as possible beyond the recommended guidelines.
However, mandatory measures must be applied equally and fairly to both residential and agriculture interests.
California's agriculture uses 80 percent of the state's water supply, including irreplaceable well water. A recent TV news program focused on the use of billions of gallons of California's scarce water to grow alfalfa in the arid Central Valley to ship to China to feed China's cows and its growing demand for fresh dairy and beef products.
In effect, we are selling billions of gallons of our irreplaceable water to China. The TV news presenter couldn't help questioning this insanely foolhardy trade, in view of our extreme and lengthy drought.
I agree, and would resent any compulsory measures depriving present and future Californians of necessary water just so it could be shipped, in the form of alfalfa and other agricultural products, overseas.
Carlee R. Durfor
Let market decide the price of water
The price of water should be raised by local providers until the projected output is less than the expected supply.
This is how the volume of most goods and services are controlled in a market economy. And, of course, the increase in revenue should be used to improve the current water system.
Fifty gallons of water per person, per day is sufficient for all personal needs, and price per gallon should be fixed at this time. Anything over this limit should have its price increased dramatically, doubled or tripled, to create strong financial incentives to discourage additional usage.
Lawns that require frequent watering should have been banned many years ago. It is really wasteful to water grass in an area that goes without any rain for eight months every year, even when there isn't a drought. And the mowed grass isn't even fed to any cattle but rather dumped into landfills. Watering lawns during this drought should be banned and stiff fines enacted for violators.
Rationing isn't just for homeowners
Mandatory rationing of water throughout California would be very difficult.
Who could monitor everyone's water use to ensure all residents were cutting back on water use? Who would pay for the very costly task?
My concern is that Gov. Jerry Brown is asking for a 20 percent voluntary cutback. I have cut back, but what about all users of California water?
Will businesses cut back on their decorative water fountains in front of their buildings? Will theme parks, such as Great America and Disneyland, cut back on their water rides? If the drought continues, will water parks be allowed to open and use our precious commodity? Theme parks use more water in a day than I do in a month.
All Californians need to look at their use of water and cut back. It's not going to make a big difference if I stop watering my lawn when businesses continue to use water as though there were no problem.
Brown needs to order everyone to take a harsh look at their water use, not just homeowners!
Time for moratorium on new meters?
A 10 percent mandatory reduction in water consumption, using an average from the last two or three years, would be fair.
As new homes being built on vacant land would have no history of water use, we could then have a moratorium on new homes.
When we had the last big water shortage in the 1980s, a moratorium on new water meters was used by many towns to control growth. If we ask current homeowners to let their landscaping die, it is wrong to allow more houses to be built.
Water companies should be deciders
Here's a really radical answer to the question: What if we let the water companies, that presumably understand their business and their respective supply-and-demand features, work with their customer base and decide what is best in their individual jurisdictions?
Among various actions, they might determine that rationing was appropriate; that it was inappropriate; that customer incentives would help; that water purchases from other sources would help; or, because of adequate reserves, that no immediate action was required. Wow, wouldn't that be an amazing way to approach the problem?
I know that kind of thinking is 1950-ish, and has no place in today's political correctness and Orwellian world, and might even conflict with the latest emphasis on equality of outcomes, regardless of whatever. Consider it a passing thought from a baby boomer out of touch with today's political (un)reality.
Base rationing on per-person usage
I support mandatory water rationing, with a caveat: It should not be based on a percentage of current household use.
Our family, as many others, has already voluntarily reduced usage. We save water from our shower to water plants, do not use the dishwasher until it is full, save on flushes and drive unwashed cars.
To now penalize people who are already conserving water with further restrictions would not be fair. Rationing should be based on so many gallons per person usage.
Desalination plants should be new target
According to a recent article, the agriculture in California uses 80 percent of the water. Now, calculating additional water usage by manufacturing businesses, building businesses, hospitals, restaurants, parks, recreational facilities, etc., how much is left for all the households? About 5 percent? So, if we save 20 percent water in households, that amounts to only 1 percent of all usage. It's not much, but it is needed, no question.
The real question, though, is why we are not building more desalination plants to get fresh water from the ocean and a network of pipes bringing back the recycled water to be used in toilets and watering lawns and parks?
I do understand that all this is expensive, but surely we would be able to find the money instead of often wasting it on various not so needed projects. ($4 billion extra to finish the Bay Bridge comes to mind).
I'd like someone in position of water distribution to elaborate on this.
Must first explain details to public
Yes, mandatory conservation should start now or the agencies providing water should provide guidance on how mandatory conservation will work if imposed in the future.
People are afraid to voluntarily conserve water now because they do not know how mandatory conservation will work in the future. If the agencies providing water impose across-the-board cuts for mandatory conservation, this will penalize the people who are voluntarily conserving water now.
If the agencies providing water do not penalize people later for conserving water now, then voluntary conservation will be more successful.
Those conserving get punished later
California's history of drought cycles, now intensified by the effects of global climate change, indicate the current water shortage will get worse. Water agencies that have a rudimentary understanding of disaster prevention should institute mandatory water-use restrictions now.
Unfortunately, this concept is too advanced for EBMUD's Board of Directors.
They are relying on voluntary reductions in water usage by their customers. The problem is that when 20 percent mandatory restrictions eventually happen, the average usage by voluntary reducers will be lower, yet they still will have to take a 20 percent cut in water.
EBMUD's current policy hurts the people who are doing the most to conserve water.
A full 80 percent of California's water goes to agriculture. That's great, because we all need food. But the most water-intensive crops, cotton and rice, are getting special access to the diminishing water supply.
Until this changes, municipal water conservation efforts won't make much of a difference.
Must take proper steps right now
Local agencies should have imposed conservation measures on water use long ago. Newspapers and TV news have been telling us this is the driest season of rainfall since records have been kept, yet nothing from the water agencies. California rainfall has not been favorable for years, and yet no restrictions as to usage.
Stop setting full glasses of water at restaurants. The waiters should ask the customer if they want water and only then serve it. My wife and I had lunch at a local restaurant last week and every table got a huge glass of water and most of the customers drank a soft drink not the water. Result? Water down the drain. Don't forget that glass has to be washed after use. More water wasted.
Our house has conserved water since the last drought in the '70s, so we cannot reduce usage much more. We have reduced the water for the lawn.
Reasonable action on water overdue
One wonders why our leaders are dithering on this. Is it because it's an election year and the public hates the word mandatory? I do hope that a good reason for not acting so far will be presented. I can find no rationale for not taking action. Common sense conservation is long overdue.