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.