California residents will soon have to reduce their water usage by 25 percent, according to a plan proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown at the first meeting of “The California Conversation” series held last Tuesday at Town & Gown. The discussion was hosted by L.A. Times publisher and C.E.O., Austin Beutner.
The new plan would impose heavy taxes on citizens who use too much water during the crisis.
“You’re going to see it in your water bills,” Brown said.
The plan was proposed after several years of inadequate rainfall that forced California to deplete many of its river sites, including the Colorado River. Replacement sites have been difficult to locate.
“Most good river sites have been built,” Brown said. “[We] depend on snow melt and mother nature.”
Compounding the difficulties that California faces with the drought, Brown spoke broadly about the global warming crisis and its catastrophic effects on the world’s increasing temperature and changing currents.
“This is a crisis,” Brown said. “This is not a political problem. This is not Democrats or Republicans. This is about humans.”
California’s population over the last 50 years has boomed to the point that now 39 million people reside within the state. Brown noted this as another potential complication for the ongoing water crisis.
“We haven’t grown slowly,” Brown said. “We have not had time to reflect. We are part of a complex way of life.”
Brown urged the public to start using water wisely and more efficiently in their daily lives. At the same time, Brown noted that the government would begin implementing changes in both the residential and agricultural sectors to encourage water efficiency.
“We need as many changes as we can,” Brown said. “We need to adapt to whatever environment that we’re in.”
One of the changes that residential Californians would face in the coming years includes a conversion of grass lawns to eco-friendly ones that would lead to a 3 percent decrease in water use.
“We need to adjust humankind,” Brown said. “Animals change to be on nature’s side, and we will have to learn to do the same.”
Brown also talked about the long-term plans of his office to decrease the amount of water and pollution that California creates. Decreasing cars on the road by 50 percent and creating a 50 percent increase in renewable energy were some of the major changes he presented. Last week, state regulators announced historic cuts to farmers and others taking water from the Sacramento, San Joaquin and delta watersheds.
Technology played a large role in the discussion as Brown spoke about many of the projects that were currently underway to increase water efficiency as well as future hope for new research discoveries.
One current project is the Bay Delta Conservation Plan — a $25 billion venture that would divert water from the Sacramento River into the California Aqueduct.
This project comes in addition to the Central Valley Water Project that also diverts water from northern California in addition to providing dams and reservoirs in the southern California area.
In addition to the major projects instituted by the California state government, local water districts are also coming up with their own small-scale solutions to the water crisis. Brown suggested companies design streets around an aqueduct so rainwater would easily drain into it.
Despite acknowledging some advancements on the horizon, Brown remained pessimistic about the current state of technology in terms of the water.
“There are not a lot of new ideas right now,” he said.
In addition to speaking about the crisis, Brown also took questions the public submitted to the L.A. Times for the event. The first question came from a citizen who denounced the bullet train project as a waste of water and resources during a time of crisis. Brown stood by the project, however, claiming that it would be beneficial for the environment and create an energy-efficient means of travel.
“The roads are too crowded,” Brown said. “Trains can decrease car use.”
The second letter came from an elderly couple who believed that the new policy would create considerable strain to their already tight water budget. Brown stood by his policy as a “work in progress.”
“We can use water efficiently,” Brown said. “We’re going to stay the course and adjust if necessary.”
In his final words, Brown remained hopeful about southern California’s ability to adapt and change during the crisis.
“Water is more important than the economy. It’s more fundamental,” Brown said. “We got a lot to learn about adaptation and innovation. I’m confident we can be successful.”