Don Curlee: Agriculture, urban goals are similar in California

The powerful Westlands Water District recently withdrew its support for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, action that might light a fire under other water organizations in the state.

The bold action by Westlands indicates that it is no longer willing to put up with unwanted and unmerited federal interference in the conscientious efforts by water interests in California to make the best use of water.

Westlands’ concerns regarding political interference by the Department of the Interior and its creation of further water restrictions without scientific basis are well-justified. Among other questionable activities, this department has been criticized recently by federal and state legislators for holding secret meetings on its planning process and for manipulating science to support its drilling ban in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in the loss of 12,000 jobs.

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New Report Targets Unreasonable Water Use in California

Delta Watermaster Craig Wilson will present a highly anticipated report to the State Water Resources Control Board on January 19 suggesting that a particularly contentious area of California water law, the California Constitution’s “Reasonable and Beneficial Use Doctrine,” be applied more broadly.

In his report, Wilson recommends that the State Board employ this doctrine to promote agricultural water use efficiency. The doctrine states a water right does not include the right to waste water and mandates that “the water resources of the state be put to beneficial use,” according to the Planning and Conservation League Insider (

A small percentage of increased agricultural water use efficiency adds up to significant water savings in California, according to Wilson. The report recommends that the State Board convene a “Reasonable Use Summit” to develop specific actions to improve efficiency and create a “Reasonable Use Unit” within the Division of Water Rights.

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REGION: Water supplier considers dropping mandatory reductions

The Press-Enterprise

Southern California’s water supply improved enough this year that the region’s largest wholesaler is considering lifting restrictions through 2012 so local districts won’t be subject to penalties for using excess water.

The board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will get a supply update during its Nov. 9 meeting in Los Angeles. Directors are expected to vote next month on whether to end mandatory 10 percent reductions.

Metropolitan’s regional water storage is showing “a significant recovery,” with about 1.6 million acre-feet expected in storage by the start of next year, 600,000 acre-feet more than last January, according to board documents. One acre-foot of water is enough to supply about two families for a year.

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Life Cycle Analysis Shows The True Environmental Cost of Swimming Pools

Not surprisingly, hot places like Phoenix or Palm Springs have a lot of backyard pools. Warren wrote recently about their environmental cost in terms of energy and water, but a new life cycle analysis of all of the inputs and outputs, from electricity to water to pool chemicals, shows the true scale of the impact. And of course, the impact is worse in cities like Phoenix that have little water and coal-fired electricity.

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