As drought drives prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water, water-intensive lawn care and other important uses
For some months now, Californians in parts of the state have been grappling with high water prices. Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown called a state of emergency after the state’s water infrastructure began breaking down in some parts of the state. And while the water is still flowing to residents in drought-stricken areas, the price of water has spiked.
The price of a gallon of regular water jumped 13 percent last year in the Bay Area, while another 14 percent hike was recorded in Northern California.
For now, Gov. Brown is proposing $1 billion to assist customers in the state. But more changes could be on the horizon.
“I have long held that the price of water in California is an issue that needs addressing in Sacramento and it’s not something that’s going to go away,” Brown said at a press conference on Oct. 31. “The price of water is going to go up in the future.”
Here’s what you need to know about the high prices, the water shortage and what can be done to help Californians pay for the water they need.
A water shortage?
California’s water problem goes beyond the state’s historic drought, in which the state has already suffered the worst year in its history, when the state experienced the driest period on record.
California faces a water supply crisis. This past summer, only 6.2 percent of the state’s population were using their water supply, according to the California Water Commission.
“We’re on the precipice of running out of water,” said Steve Mayfield, the commission’s senior director of water and agriculture policy. “We’ve already hit the point where a majority of people are going to lose their water supply.”
The cost of living crisis
The problem is complex and involves not only infrastructure at the end of the water distribution system,