California: drought resiliency

To follow up on my post earlier in the week asking that we look beyond Porterville to California communities that aren’t running out of water, and think about what they’ve done to build resiliency in drought, here’s Steve Scauzillo:

In 1991, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which imports water from Northern California and the Colorado River into Southern California, sold 2.5 million acre-feet or about 6 billion gallons to a population of about 14 million. In 2014, under extremely dry conditions, it will sell 2 million acre-feet to many more people — 19 million people, according to Jeff Kightlinger, MWD general manager.

Reductions have come from low-flow shower heads, high-efficiency toilets and, more recently, replacing turf with drought-resistant landscaping.

Some call those measures “low-hanging fruit” because they don’t require lifestyle changes. While Southern Californians have been through the drought drills many times in the last 30 years, this one could be worse.

“We have done a lot in Southern California to use less water and conserve. But a lot of what we have done has been relatively easy to do,” Feldman said. “The next steps will have to be a bit more dramatic.”


  1. On water hardening: Let’s look at Australia’s and Israel’s urban water use (or, for that matter, Las Vegas) as examples of what can be achieved before we start worrying too much about a lack of low-hanging fruit. I suspect that there is a very long way to go indeed before the retail agencies within MWD have minimized their urban irrigation requirements.

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