Editorial: The feds can curb a foolish California water giveaway
The California Water Commission, charged with balancing the state’s limited water resources and protecting the interests of the state’s consumers, is handing billions of dollars to the largest water providers in the state.
The commission’s $39 billion capital spending plan for water-related projects includes two big giveaways, and they shouldn’t be. First, it’s a disservice to Los Angeles to hand control of more than a third of the state’s water to the most expensive water provider, Southern California Water Company.
The cost of water is skyrocketing in Los Angeles, and not just from the water consumed by industry. The city is also grappling with its infrastructure. City officials don’t want to fund new pipelines from Northern California to cities like Long Beach, nor do they want to pay more to build more wastewater ponds. These things will have a significant impact on the city over the long term.
Second, letting these water providers build their projects is a shortsighted move that undermines the state’s own efforts to limit water-intensive growth in certain areas of the state.
The first giveaway is a huge mistake. The commission is giving away too much water to Los Angeles and Long Beach, two cities whose imperatives are often in direct conflict.
The city wants to grow and develop. The water providers want to grow and develop. It’s not unusual to see L.A. and Long Beach compete for land, water rights and resources with the state, which is paying them for both.
The commission’s decision to help build Los Angeles’ project to construct a massive reservoir is a classic example of the water-intensive growth that the state is fighting. It’s an issue that Governor Jerry Brown has been talking about for years.
The state-appointed commission is the water czar in California. As a result of state water laws passed in the 1960s, the commission has the authority to take actions that influence the allocation of water to all the state’s consumers through a cap-and-trade system.
This is the very system that California’s two most powerful water providers are fighting. Southern California Water Company wants to have the lion’s share of the new reservoirs built, and it wants to limit water use on certain days in Los Angeles.
The commission’s decision is part