Tiered water rates in the Cadillac Desert

From yesterday’s landmark California court ruling on the legality of tiered municipal water rates (pdf):

Southern California is a “semi-desert with a desert heart.”1 Visionary engineers and scientists have done a remarkable job of making our home habitable, and too many of us south of the Tehachapis never give a thought to its remarkable reclamation. In his brilliant – if opinionated – classic Cadillac Desert, the late Marc Reisner laments how little appreciation there is of “how difficult it will be just to hang on to the beachhead they have made.”2

In this case we deal with parties who have an acute appreciation of how tenuous the beachhead is, and how desperately we all must fight to protect it. But they disagree about what steps are allowable – or required – to accomplish that task. We are called upon to determine not what is the right – or even the more reasonable – approach to the beachhead’s preservation, but what is the one chosen by the state’s voters.

We hope there are future scientists, engineers, and legislators with the wisdom to envision and enact water plans to keep our beloved Cadillac Desert habitable.


Footnotes to Walter Prescott Webb (1) and Marc Reisner (2)

h/t Robert Glennon