News

New drought rules limit irrigation in Palo Alto

Water customers asked to restrict landscape irrigation to twice a week

With the statewide drought lingering for the fourth straight year, Palo Alto this week adopted a new rule barring residents and businesses from irrigating their landscapes more than twice a week.

The goal of the new water restrictions is to help the city meet a state-mandated goal of reducing its water use by 24 percent, compared to 2013. Last August, in response to a statewide call for voluntary conservation, the council approved new water regulations that included restrictions on the use of potable water in fountains and on driveways and sidewalks.

Now, with the water situation getting increasingly dire, the city is preparing for the next round of restrictions, which focus mostly on landscaping. The new rules are a response to Gov. Jerry Brown's April 25, 2014 executive order directing the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt emergency drought regulations. The city is required to demonstrate to the state board that is has achieved a 24 percent drop in water usage in the period between June 1, 2015 and Feb. 28, 2016.

The new rules include an irrigation schedule for the city's water customers. Those with odd-numbered addresses are now only allowed to irrigate on Mondays and Thursdays. Those with even-numbered addresses can only irrigate on Tuesdays and Fridays.

The city will give limited exceptions to grassy areas seen as providing "public benefit," including parks, schools and recreational playing fields. Customers with these sites would need to apply for Alternative Irrigation Plan with the city.

"The reasoning for this is that these spaces provide highly valued community or economic benefits and should be maintained to ensure safe recreation for users," an announcement from the Utilities Department reads. "The City will work to preserve high value playing fields, but will reduce irrigation or cease irrigating in certain areas of City Parks. Some irrigation may be supplemented with increased use of non-potable water."

The city also prohibits irrigation between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to reduce water losses through evaporation and bars the use of potable water for construction projects when non-potable water is available. State and local regulations also require water customers to fix leaks in defective plumbing and irrigation systems as soon as possible.

To deal with violators, the city is relying on an enforcement process that overwhelmingly favors education over enforcement. The first violation will result in a informational doorhanger, an email or a phone call notifying the customer of the violation. So will the second violation. Only after a third violation will the customer receive a letter from the Utilities Department notifying them of the violation and the potential future fine. After someone gets caught violating the rules four times will he or she get hit with a fine of up to $100 per day per violation. After the fifth violation, flow restrictions may be installed, according to a summary from the Utilities Department.

The city has plenty of incentives to meet the state-mandated target. Cities must issue monthly reports about their water usage to the state water board. Those that fail to meet their targets could face fines of up to $10,000 per day.

City Manager James Keene said he and Utilities Department officials are "sensitive to the reality that the city could potentially face monetary penalties if we don't meet our water-reduction targets."

Landscaping restrictions, he told the council Monday, offer the surest path to meeting these targets.

"We know the largest potential water savings will come from outdoor use during the summer months and the reduction in that usage will be required if we are to meet our target," Keene said.

He noted that urban suppliers across the Bay Area are working to standardize as much as possible the days-per-week restrictions for irrigation.

Utilities Department officials emphasized that the regulations are geared toward saving potable water and thus exempt recycled water, including greywater, rainwater and water from the city's Regional Water Quality Treatment Plant.

More information about the city's water-conservation incentives and restrictions is available at cityofpaloalto.org/water.

Related content:

Palo Alto residents seek creative ways to cut water use

Scientists: State drought likely to worsen

Gov. Jerry Brown orders mandatory reduction in water usage

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Quercus
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 13, 2015 at 6:29 pm

CANOPY.ORG has a good reference source for watering needs for different trees at Web Link

Who is responsible for watering the City's street trees?
Is the City using trucks with recycled water to water their trees?


15 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2015 at 9:58 pm

The Magnolias in our neighborhood were planted 70 years ago and no longer have any place in the current water conscious landscape. Even Canopy describes the species as 'thirsty', with 'low tolerance for recycled water', and 'Not recommended' for use in this area. The city should replace these poorly suited species with something more in line with current conservation efforts.


7 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 13, 2015 at 10:47 pm

I have a newer city street tree on my property and a letter from the city at time of planting REQUIRES me to water it (unless it rains, of course) for several years. I am HIGHLY CONCERNED that this is my responsibility, water, and cost to do this AND that people driving by will try to "rat me out" inaccurately to city authorities if they see me watering. I think the City of Palo Alto should provide us with signs stating "city of Palo Alto planted street tree - homeowner required to water up to 20 gallons of water per week" as is in the letter. Thank you if you can spread the information about this. I strongly object to being accused of wrongdoing when I am following city directions, which may not be well known to the general public. I do not have a discreet bubbler or drip system on this tree, owing to having a pre-existing sprinkler system and having the option of being able to hand-water with a hose with a shut-off valve, and I do not wish to undertake the hassle and expense of adding a bubbler/drip (not sure would be appropriate in this case, anyway), so it IS likely I will be witnessed by persons as I water this street tree.
We had a dangerous, old magnolia replaced and now have a very young tree that requires watering.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 13, 2015 at 11:02 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@ resident - I wouldn't rush to remove magnolias. They can do fine with no irrigation, with roots deep enough to happily live off ground water, even in the drought we've been going through.


19 people like this
Posted by There, there
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 14, 2015 at 12:40 am

Anonymous, you are making a mountain out of a molehill.
Make up a sign on a 3x5 card and put it on the tree:

* Young Tree *
Watering Required by City




2 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2015 at 12:46 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

Green lawns outnumber brown lawns about 50-1 in Palo Alto, so I'm not sure there is much ratting out going on.


3 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 9:23 am

I am shutting down my irrigation system indefinitely until the drought is over. My trees will have to fend for themselves and that is just the way it's going to be from now on in order to save water!


1 person likes this
Posted by Quercus
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2015 at 9:32 am

Thanks for the information on street tree watering.

20 gallons per week is only 0.11 CCF(hundred cubic feet) per month. So not much considering the City of Palo Alto Utilities has 6 CCF per month at the baseline price.

We're using 4 CCF/month for a family of 3.


11 people like this
Posted by Pump it good
a resident of Barron Park
on May 14, 2015 at 9:34 am

After plugging the tub for the entire family's showers each morning, I can pumping out about 60 gallons or recycled water per day. I don't have a large yard, but I've been able to keep things looking pretty darned good and have not had our irrigation system turned on since the first week of April.
Ask yourself if yourselves what you could do with 60 gallons of "garden water" per day, then go buy a sump pump and use that recycled wet stuff!
Grey is the new green


34 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2015 at 10:31 am

No problem everyone. Go get FREE WATER, ALL YOU WANT from the water being WASTED that pouring from the aquifers under at least 3 private home construction sites at this time...72k gallons A DAY...equal to about 14 5000 gallon tankers A DAY from just ONE of the job sites...Palo Alto does nothing about restricting the new construction of basements, but everyone else should cut back while these selfish people waste hundreds of thousands of gallons of water DAILY...and at NO charge since they are draining it directly from the ground, and from under their neighbor's homes. There are hose bibs now at at least 3 of the job sites...go get all the water you want. Call the city if you want more info.


3 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 10:32 am

I have just 2 small lawn patches in my front yard and one in the back. The front is on timed irrigation sprinklers. I'm a Monday-Thursday guy based on the new rules. I had been watering every 3 days for 8 minutes on each of the 2 front lawn valves. I guess I could increase the watering time to be equivalent. Right? Or will there be a time restriction also? Is Brown's yard brown?
Hmmm?


10 people like this
Posted by frugal already
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 10:38 am

After 4 violations?! Toothless.

And when will CPAU let us know how this is going to be fair to those users who already are on the lowest end of water use. You know, that letter they send us once a month showing how were doing so much better than our comparable neighbor's usage.... Will there be across the board cuts against usage baselines? Or will those who use more than they should be hit harder first??

The incentive in hindsight may well have been to use a lot more water 2 years ago in order to pad the baseline.

(A similar topic discussed in the NYTimes this week, about Central Valley farmers having a similar disincentive.)


13 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 14, 2015 at 10:47 am

Grumpy Old Guy is a registered user.

So is the reduction based upon current use? Or past useage. I've stopped watering my lawn last spring to save water. Does anyone know whether or not I have to reduce my use an additional 25%?


1 person likes this
Posted by Anciana
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2015 at 10:48 am

I turned off my automatic water systems more than a year ago. My former back lawn is just a bunch of dry dirt and weeds. I don't have a lawn in front. What is planted there is semi drought tolerant. I water in front using a hand-held hose. I poke the end of the hose under the heavy mulch I have added to my property, which gets the water to the roots while the mulch helps prevent fast evaporation. I save grey water from the shower, which I don't use on my plants -- I use it to flush the toilet. I plan to continue this system if and when the City assigns me to just two days a week of watering.

My two water barrels are about empty, so I'm hoping for rain! Today!


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 10:49 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The State uses 2013 as the base year:
"reducing its water use by 24 percent, compared to 2013"

I presume that Palo Alto is doing the same.


15 people like this
Posted by water waster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 14, 2015 at 11:19 am

on our daily walks throughout palo alto, we notice a) lots of lush green lawns, b) water sitting or even running down the gutter from watering these lawns. we suggest that any one with a green lawn during this very serious drought situation, be fined and fined heavily for repeated violations. there is no sense nor no need for ANYONE in Palo Alto to have a green lawn. it seems that people with means seem to feel that the drought is some one else's issue, not theirs. that somehow when we ALL run out of water that because they have money, they will be spared and miraculously have enough water for whatever usages they want.

on the state side of this issue-- we should be building new dams and reservoirs not some useless train that goes 200 mph to nowhere. really, do we need to spend billions in such a waste as some useless train--the negative ramifications of such a project are huge. instead governor brown should ear mark that money towards preserving water sources. we can all live without a train going to nowhere, but we all can't live without water.


8 people like this
Posted by YSK
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2015 at 11:25 am

We have cut down so much we are worried about cutting down more since fines are being assessed at the last minute at current usage not on an average...not much more a lot of us can cut back!


5 people like this
Posted by coooper
a resident of another community
on May 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

So how do you comply with the Monday-Thursday rule if your watering system can only be set to "24 hrs", "48 hrs", "72 hrs"?


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 11:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Set your controller for 72 hours and then every Friday turn it to the Rain or OFF setting and every Sunday night turn it back ON.


4 people like this
Posted by J A R
a resident of Professorville
on May 14, 2015 at 12:20 pm

J A R is a registered user.

During the decade from 2003 to 2012, we had wet years of nearly 38" of rain and dry ones of less than 4", but the average was still just under 14", meaning there is no drought in the most populous region of the state. The answer to the drought, therefore, is to stop wasting this valuable resource. If we captured and used the water that already falls here, we could turn off the tap from the north and leave that water for farmers.

Also, we need to tackle the antiquated system of water rights that pits farmers against each other for access to various water supplies and that forces some landowners to use the water for low value, water-intensive crops because of "use it or lose it" water laws. Farmers compete with urban users or environmentalists and fishers. If they stop fighting among themselves first and compromise on reasonable water rights reforms.

Yet, the ill effects of this latest drought could easily have been mitigated with the building of new reservoirs, rainfall diversions, dams, and other water conveyance systems. But again, state and federal environmental regulations have prevented such things. That and the massive cost of construction. The last major reservoir construction in California took place in 1979 – 36 years ago. Since then, the state has added a population the equivalent of all the people living in Washington State, Oregon, and Nevada—or about 15 million. But, as I stated, reservoir construction is pricey, and the state must bear most the cost burden. Gone are the days of massive federal subsidies for such projects.

God save the Delta smelt fish
Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" But, as I stated, reservoir construction is pricey, and the state must bear most the cost burden."

The "state" is the taxpayers and there is no reason that all taxpayers should bear the cost of some water users. Charge market rates for all water including the cost of the new construction required to meet increased demand.


18 people like this
Posted by JFP
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Lost in all of this debate is that even hitting that 25% reduction will not make a difference since residential water use is less than 10% of the total water use in California. The only real solution to the drought is to cut back on water intensive agriculture like almond orchards and growing alfalfa for cattle feed.


18 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 1:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The only real solution to the drought is to cut back on water intensive agriculture like almond orchards and growing alfalfa for cattle feed."

No, the only real solution is to charge all uses the market rate for water with a safety net minimum price for essential residential use.

The water that is owned by the State should be sold at auction - that will determine the market price.


15 people like this
Posted by Rogue Trader
a resident of Green Acres
on May 14, 2015 at 1:18 pm

I drive to Monterey for business a couple of times a month, and routinely pass through the farms around Castroville, Gilroy, etc.

I see tons of (a) massive overhead water sprinklers (instead of water conserving drip irrigation) (b) being watered multiple times a day in the late morning and afternoon, when the sun is directly overhead.

In other words, maximum water loss due to evaporation, maximum water waste and inefficiency.

Having conserved water for decades, I'm tired of government scolding me to do more, while farmers who use 80% of the water continue to waste.

Excuse me while I go hose off my driveway now.


23 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on May 14, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Why are people so quick to give up their quality of life, their tranquil green lawns and beautiful trees just so the city can allow millions of more square footage to be built that will negate all of your efforts. I recommend that you do what is reasonable but don't give up your water rights or quality of life until the city puts a moratorium on all new buildings that will use water or energy. The state is the same way. In 5 to 10 years they will have added so many people and developments that the 20% savings will be used by them and we will be right back where we are now. It is time for a plan that looks at what is sustainable for the state - how many people, how much development, how much agriculture. Just giving these politicians more water to give away to developers by conserving isn't the answer.


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 14, 2015 at 2:27 pm

cm is totally right ... the problem is growth and under that population.

There is a great video on You-Tube by the late Dr. Albert Bartlett called
the "Most Important Video You Will Ever See" that talks about population
and the exponential function. Bartlett said that the biggest problem the
Earth faces is human's inability to understand the exponential function.

If we are having scarcity problems now, whatever we do to eke by will
be a joke when the next generation is born and the population doubles.

I keep seeing people with big families all over the place, in the media,
on the streets, and places where they are serious about population, i.e.
China, they just come here and have their big families.

This is no joke, the way we do business is unworkable in the very near
future, and that means it is unworkable now, it's just how big a crunch
and how much of a disaster do we want to choose to have.

This brilliant video in case anyone is interested is here: Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2015 at 2:30 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

"The "state" is the taxpayers and there is no reason that all taxpayers should bear the cost of some water users. Charge market rates for all water including the cost of the new construction required to meet increased demand."

Is it really unreasonable to pay the highest or second highest tax rate in the country and not expect some infrastructure in return? Have we decided that taxes are just for war, wall street and welfare, and let everything else fall apart? I'll trade the bullet train to nowhere for a reservoir or two.


1 person likes this
Posted by ExponentialGrowth
a resident of Palo Verde School
on May 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 4:23 pm

We haven't had a good soaking storm in 4 straight years. State of emergency has been declared by the Gov. So it is prudent to use portable water for daily living only. I have beautiful trees; however, their watering days are over until the drought is declared done by the Gov. In the mean time, my neighbors just have to enjoy looking at whatever trees left standing on my property. Not one drop of water shall be wasted on trees!


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Town of Mendocino put a moratorium on new water connection and hence any new construction years ago. IF that is what the citizen of any other community want then they can just vote for a similar moratorium.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2015 at 4:35 pm

We have many trees in Palo Alto. Some are near homes, busy streets, schools, sidewalks, etc. If these trees don't get enough water, they will die and become dangerous. A dead or dying tree can come down in the slightest storm and can cause plenty of damage to property, disruption to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, and more seriously death to anyone who happens to be in a car, riding a bike, walking a sidewalk or asleep in a bed in the path of a falling tree.

I think it is for safety to keep the trees well watered.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2015 at 5:41 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@me -"We haven't had a good soaking storm in 4 straight years."

What qualifies as a soak to you? We had 3.5 inches in one day last December.

Web Link

And another soak in December 2012 that almost caused the creek to overflow.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 5:56 pm

@Slow Down- all your links and data are valid. However, a lot of the blow by storms came and went. They provided us much needed water for trees and shrubs but failed to form enough snow front in the high Sierra. Heche reservoir needs this runoffs and not storms passing us in the peninsula.

Yes it will be painful to see my all if my trees die, but I will not use precious drinking water on trees. In the coming years, if we are not out of this terrible drought, tree cutting businesses will be booming around here. I may be their first customer!


9 people like this
Posted by Lachen McClellan
a resident of Midtown
on May 14, 2015 at 6:54 pm

It goes well beyond "beautiful trees to look at." "A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year." - Arbor Day Foundation. "One acre of trees annually consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average car for 26,000 miles. That same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe in a year." - New York Times. Palo Alto has both an abundance of cars and an abundance of trees. And I believe we have a responsibility to care for the air we breathe as well as to prioritize the water we use.


13 people like this
Posted by My Bud
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 14, 2015 at 8:29 pm

A close friend, who also lives in Palo Alto, was ratted out by her neighbor ( from the People's Republic of China!) because she was washing her car WITH A BUCKET at 8:00 in the morning on a Sunday! She even saw them come out and take a picture of her with their iPhones!

Later that week, she got a "visit" from someone in a CPAUD truck who let her off with a warning that next time this would result in a fine!!!

So, obviously, there are some rat finks in this town.


8 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 14, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Why is Gov. Brown still letting Nestle and the other commercial water companies sell the state's water for a profit while forcing residential conservation??

Why isn't Palo Alto lobbying for this nonsense to stop? It's much more useful than sending erroneous mailings about our water use.


3 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 14, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Your account is suspect at best. You are allowed to wash your car as long as there is a shutoff valve at the other end. Here the link to policy

Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by My Bud
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 14, 2015 at 9:19 pm

She was using A BUCKET--first filled with soapy water. Then filled with clean water. No shutoff valve or hose needed. She does not even have a hose in her front yard. The Utility Dept went by the pics sent by the neighbors and their over-the-phone report. Maybe they did not get the full truth from the neighbors?


3 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Online Name - Nestle sells water for drinking. That's the opposite of waste, that's the optimal use for the water. There are about a million worse things happening to our water supply then it ending up in a bottle.


2 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 14, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Recently, it’s come to light that the traditional reporting of water use has been in error. The following seems to be closer to reality—

PPIC/Water Use in California:
Web Link

Statewide, average water use is roughly 50% environmental, 40% agricultural, and 10% urban

While all of us know what agricultural and urban use is—what environmental use is is less clear. Presumably this is water needed to maintain a certain water quality/quantity for some marine life, but what other uses might their be, and can those uses be expected to adapt to less water too?

> Nestle sells water for drinking.

True, but if those drinking it are outside of California--then that is the same as waste.


3 people like this
Posted by @Water Waster
a resident of Barron Park
on May 15, 2015 at 7:09 am

@water waster, in this age bor recycling water and in homme grey water recycling systems, how can you tell if the lawns are green because of frech water usage? Hint, you cannot. It also rained a bunch. My grass is green green green and has had 0.00 gallons of fresh water (barring rain) since March.
I welcome you to come by and see how I keep my yard looking great using ONLY recycled water that would otherwise flow into the sewers.
Lets fine people who don't recycle their water...no, actually, that would be a stupid thing as would be using the greenness of a lawn to decide who is or is not wasting water.

BOOM!!! goes the preconceived notion that someone with a green lawn is wasting water. Not in this day and age. RECYCLE YOUR WATER!


8 people like this
Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 15, 2015 at 8:24 am

Reported in the paper today Lennar Corporation is using fresh drinking water to keep the dust down in the tear-down of Candlestick Park. That is our water source. There appears to be no universal approach in the peninsula overall to control construction use of water.

Construction projects are running loose - why is that so? A water district cannot impose draconian requirements on residents when commercial / construction uses appear to have no controls. We all understand that it is an added expense to pipe into tanker trucks for use elsewhere on city parks but that cost is real and passed on to the residents.

City and state planners need to enforce controls on city improvement projects. Coming up 2016 we need political clout to vote in people who will address this issue - it is not being addressed under the current administrations.


1 person likes this
Posted by ndn
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2015 at 9:44 am

I too am required to water the young tree in front of my house. At least that 's what Canopy said to me. What's up with city trees City?


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 15, 2015 at 9:55 am

@resident 1
agree that State needs to pre-empt local control, also in area of
dewatering for basements.


Like this comment
Posted by J Merryweather
a resident of Downtown North
on May 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

In our well-intended zeal to make water-wise plant and landscape choices, here's an important reminder from CA Drought Blog to make sure our beautiful, water-wise plants are NOT invasive plants. Don't be fooled by deceptively beautiful, invasive plants like Mexican feathergrass (Stipa or Nassella tenuissima) and Green fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum).
Web Link


8 people like this
Posted by Paula
a resident of Midtown
on May 15, 2015 at 1:45 pm

One person mentioned the article on the front page of this morning's Mercury News regarding the demolition of Candlestick. Lennar Corp is pouring hundreds of thousands of gallons (maybe more!) of drinking water on the site to hold down dust. Isn't anyone else as incensed as I am about this?


6 people like this
Posted by My Bud
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 15, 2015 at 2:03 pm

The company is giving lame excuses: can't use gray water because it is bad for the equipment, causes a sticky layer on the dirt, etc


3 people like this
Posted by WaterMyths
a resident of Community Center
on May 15, 2015 at 10:38 pm

@JFP: "The only real solution to the drought is to cut back on water intensive agriculture like almond orchards and growing alfalfa for cattle feed."


This is only half right.

Framing the water problems appropriately is tough - let's try this: the purpose of agriculture is to make money raising crops and animals. The State benefits when our farmers are prosperous - and the easiest measure of prosperity is income. So let's turn this into dollars: land, water, labor, and the value of the crop produced.

Water pricing is all over the map depending on rights. It is not an efficient market, and if you can get it it is expensive to buy on open market.

So... What crops return the most MONEY per gallon of water?

Broccoli, almonds, and citrus.

Never mind that almond take a lot of water per ounce, when that ounce sells for a lot of money, it is economically the better choice for the use of water.

Crops that return low dollars per gallon are rice(commodity rice, not specialty rice), beef, alfalfa.


So your original statement that alfalfa and Almonds are bad is likely based on water per ounce produced. When we examine water per dollar produced, almonds are good, alfalfa is bad.

What is best? Bottled water is well up the list.

I know it feels wrong, but the state is wealthier by exporting a gallon in plastic bottles, instead of a gallon packaged inside a broccoli plant.

The interesting thing is that the worst crops are all about equally poor return per gallon - and are about 4x the marginal cost of water. As prices rise, these SHOULD become uneconomical to grow.

This is where fair water auctions and transparent pricing would help direct water to where it does the most good.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2015 at 2:03 pm

> The State benefits when our farmers are prosperous - and
> the easiest measure of prosperity is income.

Currently, 40% of the State's water is being used in agriculture, but agriculture contributes only about 3% of the State's GDP.

A reduction of 10% water allocation to agriculture (the total urban use) will result in a .3% reduction in the GDP.

Time to think about these numbers more deeply than we have in the past.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on May 16, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Joe - If we are going to make decisions purely based on GDP (which is weird, because food has other uses than being sold, like sustenance), what's the case for directing water to the delta to support the smelt? Let's cut that to 0 ASAP.


Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm


Here is a little data for the discussion--

Web Link

California's top-ten valued commodities for 2013 are:
• Milk — $7.6 billion
• Almonds — $5.8 billion
• Grapes — $5.6 billion
• Cattle, Calves — $3.05 billion
• Strawberries — $2.2 billion
• Walnuts — $1.8 billion
• Lettuce — $1.7 billion
• Hay — $1.6 billion
• Tomatoes — $1.2 billion
• Nursery plants— $1.2 billion
---

Much of the food produced on this list is shipped out of state, and so are clearly cash crops for the farmers--at the expense of high water use. Reducing the water allocated by some amount obviously will reduce the yields for their farms. But how many of the foods on this list can not be grown elsewhere in the US, or imported from other countries? California is not the only place in the world where food is produced.

The issue here is that this is an emergency situation which may go on for several years. Decisions have to be made about reducing water use. Clearly, there is only so much of the urban use that can be reduced. Some crops, like fruits and nuts, require trees/bushes which might require several years in order to become productive. It would be desirable not to see the trees/bushes killed off by our decisions. Other crops like lettuce, tomatoes and hay--only require land and water. It would not be that difficult to make decisions using GDP to make water allocations. There are also a lot of crops using water that are not on this list. So, their GDP contributions would help to make these decisions, too.

The 50% use of water for "environmental" comes immediately into question. Where is all this water going, and what good is it really doing all of us? Not exactly certain how the smelt contribute to the GDP, but think it's time to ask that question.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 16, 2015 at 7:19 pm

>>Never mind that almond take a lot of water per ounce, when that ounce sells for a lot of money, it is economically the better choice for the use of water.

Not necessarily, that depends on the EXTERNAL cost that not having water will do to everyone, including the almond industry eventually. If there is not enough water for people to flush their toilets and take showers, people will get sick health care costs would go up. There is no guarantee that the money almond growers bring in will be perfectly allocated by our capitalist system to solving our problem ... except for anyone but the almost growers, and those they have to placate to maintain their economic domination of water resources. ( said as an almond lover, by the way )

That's an example, but we do know that at some point back in history what used to be a very thriving native American network of towns, or whatever they used to call them, disappeared kind of suddenly, probably because there was not water to support it.

THE BIG PROBLEM AS JARED DIAMOND HAS POINTED OUT OVER AND OVER IN HIS COLLAPSE BOOK IS THAT ALL THESE DECISIONS ARE MADE BY THE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT FACE THE PROBLEM, AND SO THEY LEAD TO SLOW AND STEADY NON-ANSWERS THAT HURT EVERYONE BUT THEM, AND THEN EVENTUALLY EVEN THEM RIGHT BEFORE EVERYTHING COLLAPSES. THIS IS HUMAN NATURE AND WHY WE HAD OUR GOVERNMENT TO BEGIN WITH - TO COUNTERACT OUR WORST NATURES - BUT THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE CONVINCED US THAT THEY ARE SPECIAL HAVE OVER-RULED OUR GOVERNMENT - HECK - THEY DID FROM THE BEGINNING WITH SLAVERY AND NOT GIVING WOMEN THE VOTE. ARE THEY GOING TO STOP NOW. HOW UGLY WILL THEY GET?

The time is past to really think about what the future looks like, and really it hinges on population. Whatever we do now will just be swamped in a few years by growing populations. Populations grow two ways ... net immigration of people, and new people - births. The resources we have to do something about this is taxes, but we are creating bigger and bigger tax liabiliies while we also are removing people form the employment rolls so they do not even pay taxes?

In this respect, China's system works better than ours in that it can react to things like this. Which they have needed to because they have made lots of the same mistakes as well. Central planning won't look so bad when things are looking like the farm scenes from "Interstellar".

The current water crisis is already telling us that we have had too many people for a while now. Just as the climate change has been telling us we have too much CO2 in the pipeline to do anything about it now.

Any solution to that is going to have to pull resources again from a larger system ... i.e. generate more energy, use more carbon, pump more water from places that do not as of yet have a water shortage ... and that is getting smaller and smaller. The solution is what we have been doing that has caused the problem.

Let's say we build a bunch of nuclear reactors and use the energy to desalinate and pump water around the state/country, like a giant circulatory system. If we do not halt our population growth we will just reach and break another equilibrium point and then what? Then we are dependent at a whole new risk level that no one ever voted on.

If you accept the market solution, in effect what you are saying is that all the things that do not have a voice, the poor, the environment, are just going to be up for trade when things get bad. All because some people have to have so much, and no one can come up with a fair system or a way to get there.


1 person likes this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 17, 2015 at 10:24 am

>If you accept the market solution, in effect what you are saying is that all the things that do not have a voice, the poor, the environment, are just going to be up for trade when things get bad. All because some people have to have so much, and no one can come up with a fair system or a way to get there

Another Marxist zero-sum screed.

We are not faced with scarcity...we are faced with abundance. And that abundance will be driven by exponential technologies, using the incentive embedded in the capitalist model. The argument to scarcity is a death sentence for the poor. If Steve Jobs was taxed into "fairness", as a path to social/economic "justice", would the poor be better off? No way!

We are in a drought. Keep it simple... California has seen many droughts before. There is zero evidence that global warming is the cause. Yes, we will conserve...and do more storage, etc., but the real solution will be desalination (in the near future)...the energy for this process will be provided by nuclear and solar, and the energy efficiency will increase tremendously. And the environment will improve. Alarmism leading to Marxism is an economic (and real) death sentence for almost everyone.


2 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2015 at 11:45 am

>> If Steve Jobs was taxed into "fairness", as a path to social/economic "justice", would the poor be better off?

If I was a Marxist, whatever that means, I would hardly be living here. Who mentioned Steve Jobs? Why don't you ever stick to the point? You are pretty funny though the way you can twist everything around to work yourself up into such McCarthyist silliness.

In case you missed it, we do not have an abundance of water, Craig, and just because you will be dead before the real problem hits, doesn't mean you get to distort the situation. [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 17, 2015 at 12:02 pm

[Portion removed.]

>In case you missed it, we do not have an abundance of water, Craig....

Yes we do...most people call it the ocean. Efficient, high-tech desalination will make the problem largely disappear. Deadening arguments to scarcity won't work. It is time for you to grab the future, instead of regurgitating the past. The future is very bright.


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 17, 2015 at 12:19 pm

[Portion removed.]

Most children born in America will not have a life as good as their parents.
That was true decades ago. Talk to them about how bright they think that
is. How many Palo Alto children can live in Palo Alto ... ever think about
that?

Now, lifespans are declining. Medical statisticians say that children born
in the last generations will not live as long as their parents. Do you ever
look at real trends in data [portion removed]?

Our country has never been fully capitalist or collectivist, we have had
pragmatic hybrids of systems to make things work. The greatest growth
and properity came under what the neanderthals call socialism in the
40's, 50's and 60's. Funny how your blinders don't let you see that.

Just the rise in CO2 of the atmosphere has changed the pH of the
oceans to the point where marine life is not able to build shells. Coral
reefs ... ever dived in a coral reef ... are dying.

If we desalinate a significant amount of water the salinity of the oceans
will change along the coast. These things have an effect and all I hear
from the likes of you is ridicule and dismissal ... until someone else has
to pay and clean up your mess. Not that is communism commissar.
The fact that it comes from a capitalist cheerleader is just a smoke screen.


2 people like this
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on May 17, 2015 at 1:11 pm

CPAnon:

>Most children born in America will not have a life as good as their parents.

They will have a much more abundant life. How many of our parents had the ability to communicate, travel, get rather amazing drugs and health care, etc. like we do? My father almost died of pneumonia, because there was no penicillin...when I got it, I was immediately cured. My kids have hugely more opportunities than what I had. Who cares if they live in Palo Alto...it's a big world out there.

Lifespans are getting longer, not shorter (just ask the Social Security Administration).

Coral reefs are not dying from ocean acidity...but some are dying due to overfishing of species that eat the suffocating algae.
[Post removed.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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