23rd Annual California Water Policy Conference

“And it never failed that during the dry years, the people forgot about the rich years, and during the wet years they lost all memory of the dry years.  It was always that way.”  — John Steinbeck, East of Eden


200+ academics, water districts, students, industry representatives, farmers and ranchers, community groups, conservation organizations and others are gathered at the Claremont McKenna campus today to discuss water policy issues in this time of significant statewide drought.

Keynote speaker Dr. Jeff Mount set the stage by urging participants to: 1) track water use and supply – we can’t manage what we don’t measure; 2) plan, prepare and prioritize – integrate the environment into the discussion and prepare in advance for future flood/drought episodes, just like we do for other disasters/emergencies; 3) manage groundwater, rather than reservoir storage, for drought contingency; and 4) employ tiered pricing for water – to better incentivize conservation.

Quick lessons so far: We are one state, and we all need to work together to address the state’s needs.  “All-of-the-above” solutions are the watchword versus “either/or.”  Management strategies need to be based on science and technology rather than “hope” (that it will rain next year).  And we need to plan ahead for various drought/flood contingencies rather than waiting until we are in the midst of a crisis to make hard choices on the fly. 

Stay tuned, more to come this afternoon!