The hidden value of the California drought

Brett Walton:

The value of the California drought, painful as it is, is that the state’s citizens are beginning to ask the sorts of questions that might previously have been confined to a conference room. Who gets water? How much? Who decides? What is valuable – economically, socially, ecologically – about rebuilding a wetland, or planting an almond orchard, or watering a lawn? Can competing interests produce joint benefits?

Drought brought these questions to the surface. The dry hot days hurt now — for the homeowners without running water, for the farmers who must fallow fields, and for the fishermen who see their catch disappearing — but the pain will be beneficial later. If the state pays heed.


  1. This is spot on and way past time. There are so many houses in CA that have never even had water meters. I’ve always contended that to teach people how to conserve water just take it away for a couple/three hours on a weekend when they’re home. They’ll be flabbergasted at what they’ve just been taking for granted.

    I lived in Cedar Crest for dozen years in an all electric house on my own well. There was precious little water stored in the pressure tank in the house between well pump cycles. The power fails more frequently up that that it ever has for me in Abq. I put in the biggest pressure tank I could fit in the closet the little dink tank was installed in when I bought the house. When we lost electricity we lost well pump so the only water left available is what was in the tank: anywhere between 2 and 28 gallons depending on the timing of the power outage and the last well pump cycle. My young kids at the time learned “If the lights go out, don’t flush the toilet without asking Dad.”

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