Some points of comparison for California water

Jay Lund (UC Davis) wrote an interesting piece this week offering some water management geographic comparisons – how does California stack to other geographically similar regions?

This is an interesting approach, because a lot of water governance rhetoric is inward facing – we see our own problems, but don’t do a good enough job of comparing our successes and failures to others in similar situations. Lund’s starting point is other Mediterranean climates:

These climates tend to be dry (not much water), attractive places to live and farm (bringing high water demands), with mismatch between wetter winters and dry summer growing seasons.  The scarce water supply in the wrong season for human activities makes human management of water problematic for native ecosystems.

Using a number of comparative measures – how many people? how much ag? how big an economy? – Lund suggests that California is actually doing quite well:

California can learn from other regions, but is certainly not a laggard in terms of environmental and economic performance among Mediterranean climates.  We do not do as well with water as we would like, and we must find ways to do better, but California nevertheless does relatively well in managing water.

Intriguing argument worth reading in full.