Brown imposes 25 percent water cutbacks

Bishop, CA

Bishop, CA

Faced with a crisis unprecedented in California’s history or his own tenure in office, Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled mandatory water restrictions at Phillips Station, a Sierra Nevada locale hit hard by this year’s meager snowfall. Cities and towns, he said, must now cut their water consumption by 25 percent from statewide urban usage in 2013; local agencies that failed to measure up faced fines of up to $10,000 a day, according to the Los Angeles Times.

After repeatedly signaling his reluctance to impose Draconian conservation measures, Brown’s announcement signaled not just the severity of California’s drought, but the intensity of the political test headed his way. After his last term in office, spent carefully navigating between his Republican opposition and frustrated Democrats to his left, Brown’s delicate balance threatened to come apart over the water crisis. Despite focusing almost exclusively during his re-election campaign on passing the state’s new water bond propositions — and marshaling bipartisan support for his most recent water aid package — Brown has found himself weathering criticism from conservatives and liberals alike.

Just the beginning

As the Times noted, although Brown’s new restrictions quickly received support from municipalities across California, officials have already indicated that the 25 percent cut was probably just a first step:

“Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation and former state secretary of natural resources, said even more restrictions may be necessary in the future, such as banning all outdoor water use. ‘We’re probably going to need more action before we’re through the summer,’ he said.”

Brown’s rhetoric matched the warnings. “People should realize we are in a new era,” he said at Phillips Station. “The idea of your nice little green lawn getting watered every day, those days are past,” the New York Times reported. A significant impact was expected not only on Californians’ yards but on their cleaning, drinking and showering habits as well.

Farm fight

One group of residents, however, escaped the cutbacks for now: large farmowners. Because they do not get their water through the local water agencies affected by Gov. Brown’s executive order, his 25 percent restriction did not apply to their significant consumption and use. Brown did, however, require the farmers “to offer detailed reports to state regulators about water use, ideally as a way to highlight incidents of water diversion or waste,” according to the New York Times.

FarmFor some critics, that burden was not substantial enough. “According to the Public Policy Institute of California, about 9 million acres of farmland in California are irrigated, representing about 80 percent of the water used by people,” the Sacramento Bee reported. So-called big ag has garnered friends and enemies across California as a consequence of its muscular presence in Sacramento. “Politically,” the Bee noted, “agriculture occupies an influential rung in the hierarchy of industries lobbying – and contributing to – California’s elected officials. The $40 billion industry employs about 420,000 and has made California the nation’s top agricultural producing state, sustaining its image as the nation’s breadbasket.”
But all California farms were not created economically equal. Some analysts have already begun to predict that future cutbacks will fall more heavily on farmers with relatively less profitable, and more easily imported, crops.

Laying blame

Whatever the future might hold for water consumers, Brown’s own political situation has quickly soured. In a bitter irony, as the Washington Post pointed out, some of the Golden State’s current struggles traced back to the grandly liberal water policy adopted by Brown’s own father, former Gov. Pat Brown.

Political chickens have come home to roost on either side of Brown’s often self-consciously judicious brand of policymaking. To his left, frustrated liberals complained that agriculture must cut back far more. To his right, conservative critics like Assemblyman Tom Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, blasted Brown for an infrastructure agenda that put high-speed rail above dams, desalinization and environmental regulatory reform.

And to add insult to injury, Brown’s efforts to liberalize California criminal law have indirectly contributed to the state’s growing marijuana consumption — which, in turn, has led to massive water consumption.


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  1. motherteresa
    motherteresa 3 April, 2015, 15:27

    I am in heaven so I can say what I want.I knew that guy from California was a godless, pig headed ass. Open the borders and don’t have food or water for them. You can’t eat food stamps you idiot.
    God, it felt good to say that.

    Reply this comment
  2. Ken Kong
    Ken Kong 4 April, 2015, 09:53

    Brown getting back into the governorship was like going out to the breadbox and only finding stale bread. This is really the best this degenerating state can do? Maybe so. Brown has done only one BIG thing right in his present tenancy in his “drink at the public trough” life – he dumped redevelopment. Otherwise he is a giveaway master, a king of the leftist idiocracy tat is gripping California, mostly because we have elected too many hispanics to Sacto and are behaving more and more like Mexico every day. Final thought about the water crisis: Illegal aliens drink water?

    Reply this comment
    • DokDream
      DokDream 4 April, 2015, 10:34

      Wow! Strong post. Dead-on, of course. No one wants to say what you did. Years ago I developed a water-saving device. I was not allowed to offer it for sale due to bureaucratic restrictions. That, and good concepts developed by other people just died. Big government is NOT the answer. Tim Donnelly was right, of course, but we don’t have him as governor. Maybe the leftists salivating over all the Democratic give-aways will now see that self-determination is what counts, not government interference — but I doubt it.

      Reply this comment
  3. Rancher Deb
    Rancher Deb 4 April, 2015, 11:22

    A decent article about our FIRST EVER IN HISTORY water “enforcement” (per situation HOWEVER fails to mention that the lack of water available during this drought is because of Jerry Brown and his foolish administration’s 21st century agenda. This dramatic drought situation is GOVERNMENT/ENVIROCRAT-CREATED.

    FOR MONTHS & YEARS…CALIFORNIA BUREAUCRATS HAVE BEEN RELEASING & FLUSHING & WASTING BILLIONS OF GALLONS OF WATER OUT TO THE OCEAN for either the delta smelt (fish food for salmon) or the coho salmon (a far north Pacific Northwest fish) – and supposedly we fear SEA RISING because of GLOBAL WARMING.

    FOR YEARS, CALIFORNIA BUREAUCRATS HAVE PUT A MORATORIUM ON THE MAJORITY OF CALIFORNIA’S TIMBER INDUSTRY….TREES SUCK UP WATER BUT WE CAN’T CUT THEM DOWN TO MANAGE THE TOO DENSE, CATASTROPHIC-FIRE-IN-THE-MAKING FORESTS. So our future is bigger forests sucking up millions of gallons of water every day, importing expensive timber from Canada, the demise of the Spotted Owl with its 6-foot wingspan cannot fly into the forests to retrieve rodents it once dined on, and animals not wanting to live in forests because there is no feed…fruit and grass need sun to grow. Deer forage on grass…not needles.


    FOR YEARS, CALIFORNIA HAS BEEN ON AN AGENDA TO REMOVE HYDRO PRODUCING DAMS & RESERVOIRS – these hydro producing dams and lakes are NECESSARY, PROVIDE COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF WATER 365/DAYS PER YEAR/ 24 HOURS/PER DAY (even during droughts), are CLEAN GREEN ENERGY DAMS AND WATER STORAGE LAKES (like the KLAMATH RIVER HYDRO DAMS AND WATER STORAGE LAKES) that provide drought, flood, and fire control, irrigation for farmers, eco-systems for habitat, recreation, clean green renewable energy, and scenic beauty to a state that naturally goes dry and water submerges in the late seasons into the underlying aquifers.

    ALL of the above is backwards crazy making foolish and irresponsible.

    Note, California is naturally and historically a drought-ridden, Mediterranean, arid, dry state whereby diverting water and creating storage for irrigation has given us the title of BREAD BASKET OF THE NATION. Because of DIVERTING water and creating a GARDEN OASIS OF LIFE that is California we have MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRIES that call California home: Hi-Tech, Bio-Tech, Hollywood, Wineries, Travel, Recreation, and Ag.

    Prop 1, which both Rs and Ds voted for, claimed majority of monies and water to nature…so it’s no wonder YOU NOW MUST CHANGE YOUR WATER HABITS. Prior to Prop 1 passage, Jerry Brown stole our groundwater via EO.

    And just hang on…we are in for a long LOG RIDE where there will be no water for us to get wet. Just wait until you are forced to replace your toilet with low flow that backs up. Just wait until the doctor prescribed 8, 8oz glasses of water a day is reduced to 6 then 4. Just wait until your $14 glass of wine is now $20 then $22, etc. Just wait until we are forced to REDUCE every aspect of our lives (from driving (cars require water to be built and water to run) to recreation (skiing on man-made snow, boating on lakes (pollution in the scarce water)) are going to be so expensive we eventually will stop doing more of the things we love and gravitate towards what we are given…like government-given recreation.

    FOLKS…WE ARE IN HOT WATER. The WATER WARS are just beginning. We did not control our politicians (and their self-appointed agencies) as they deserve and deserved to be controlled, monitored, and FIRED!! We now will suffer the consequences for years and years to come until enough of the citizenry gets motivated to turn back time. Is this possible?

    There are no knights on white horses coming to save us…it is up to YOU AND ME to do something about a government that has literally GONE WILD!!

    Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 4 April, 2015, 22:21

    Jerry was always in favor of take away to limit growth…freeways….

    You pension sobbers……water goes to the moon…then follow the money!

    Reply this comment
  5. Kate
    Kate 6 April, 2015, 11:06

    Where I live (East Bay/Silicon Valley), our community keeps building “stack and pack” housing on every available inch of land. We have three new huge developments going up within 5 miles of where I live. So we keep adding more people to the strained infrastructure who will only increase water usage problems in our communities, yet expect more water reductions from these very same communities? How is this even sane policy?

    Reply this comment
  6. Dork
    Dork 6 April, 2015, 14:58

    Going to get pretty interesting in the near future, Good thing I have my own WELL and no longer live in the city. We really will be just like Mexico before anything substantive is done.

    Reply this comment
  7. Queeg
    Queeg 6 April, 2015, 18:13

    Dwell not on the messenger…..Comrades……follow the money!

    Reply this comment
  8. desmond
    desmond 7 April, 2015, 04:05

    The common sense solution is depopulation. The rational solution is excretion of undocumented back to their homeland. Nope, bring in more to fight drought brought on by global warming, no I mean climate change. ” Thoughts of the the common man.”

    Reply this comment
  9. HondoBugt
    HondoBugt 7 April, 2015, 18:55

    The radical tree hugging liberals are for millions upon millions of illegal aliens coming to over populate Kalifornia.

    Reply this comment
  10. Hondo
    Hondo 7 April, 2015, 19:01

    The radical tree hugging liberals are for millions upon millions of illegal aliens coming to over populate Kalifornia. But they are against providing the electrical and water infrastructure to allow them to live here. They support illegals coming here for jobs then shut down thousands of acres of farmlands in the central valley to save a few bait fish. There is water in Kali for a billion people. You just have to build a few more dams to save the water for a non rainy day.

    Reply this comment

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droughtJerry BrownwaterJames Poulos

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