water topics not discussed

There are two topics related to the drought that I’ve not seen discussed, so here goes.

1. Water meters: Only about half of water customers in the City of Sacramento are on water meters. The city has committed to installing them for all customers by 2025, as court ordered. The lack of water meters is a relict of the old attitudes that water was plentiful and limits were not needed. Clearly, though times are gone. But the city is still on its gradual plan of implementation. No one from the city has, so far as I know, suggested that the implementation be accelerated. Why not? Well, it is expensive since it requires not only meters but other water infrastructure work. Other than that, I think it is just inertia, the feeling that if we just keep doing what we were doing, things will eventually be OK. But that is the attitude that got us into this fix to begin with. It is time to spend the money, now, this year. That will take moving money for other purposes, many of them valuable and needed, to water meter installation. But what is more important in the city right now than water?

2. Westlands Water District: Westlands represents itself as the provider of water for family farmers, and who wants to hurt family farmers? But Westlands is in fact home to huge corporate farms. This district, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley in Fresno and Kings counties, serves some of the driest, most salt-laden soils in the entire San Joaquin and Sacramento valleys. It is largely land that should have never been farmed to begin with, and certainly should not be farmed during a drought. Yet Westlands holds immense power in the state, and is, as much as Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the reason for the tunnel project to ship more water to the south. Most of that water will never reach the residents of southern California, it will get only as far as Westlands, where it will be wasted on extremely dry, low productivity lands. I am not against farms or farmers, and believe that everything we do in response to the drought carefully consider the history and needs of family farmers. But the Westlands is not those farms nor those family farmers. I believe we must simply cut off Westlands so that the water we do have can go to more productive family farms.

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