Editorial: The feds can curb a foolish California water giveaway
The feds are no match for California’s mismanaged water resources when it comes to being fiscally frugal.
This goes back to the early 1980s, when the federal Bureau of Land Management made an offer to California to manage its surface water, groundwater, and surface water rights. This was the Bureau of Land Management’s first offering of an offer to California.
Since then, the government has spent more than $2 billion annually managing the state’s water. This is at a time when the average California household could easily pay for two years of federal income taxes.
For the past several decades, I’ve written about the problems with California’s water management. Here’s a review of some recent key developments.
• Beginning in the late 1970s, the state lost nearly half its surface water storage. The most recent estimate is that by 1996 the state lost 37 billion gallons of freshwater storage, and nearly all of that was stored in lakes, reservoirs, or aquifers.
• California’s water storage losses have continued over the last 10 years, with the state losing another 50 billion gallons per year.
• The state’s surface water storage is down another 20 billion gallons, and its groundwater storage is down another 15 billion gallons per year.
• California is spending more than $1 billion per year to cover the state’s water cost shortfall.
• In 2014 the state gave away almost 11 billion gallons of California’s surface water. This figure is about $700 million annually.
• California doesn’t think it has much surface water left to give.
• This state of affairs was caused by state government policy.
A couple of these developments are alarming and should be of major concern to California residents and politicians.
The other problem is that the federal Bureau of Land Management has a new and much more aggressive water management strategy than the one it had when California first made its water offer.