Californians Who Conserved Wonder If State Can Overcome Those Who Didn’t


April 2, 2015 | The New York Times | Jack Healy and Adam Nagourney

The drought in the West is real, here to stay, and can no longer be ignored. This week, California Governor Jerry Brown’s announced executive action outlining mandatory reductions in water use aimed at cutting consumption 25 percent from 2013 levels over the next year. Here’s a round-up of some of the best reads on this big news:

  • Jack Healy and Adam Nagourney of the New York Times takes a close look at the tension that exists between people who do everything they can to conserve water – from sharing baths to eschewing laundry – and California’s less water-conscious residents. An interactive map of California water use and crowd-sourced survey accompany the article.
  • In Politico’s Morning Energy newsletter, Darius Dixon noted that Governor Brown’s plans address water’s role in California’s energy supply through the creation of a “Water Energy Technology” program and with rules to ease drought’s disruptive hold on the electric grid. Power plants often require large amounts of water for cooling, and the executive order includes provisions for expediting utilities with plans to seek out alternate water sources. Dixon writes, “A jaunt through EIA data shows that among plants with a capacity of more than a megawatt, 27 — about a quarter of the state’s total — use the Pacific Ocean for cooling (for you nuclear watchdogs, that includes Diablo Canyon) so they’re not likely to need modification but many of the rest use rivers and other sources.”
  • For the Christian Science Monitor, Jessica Mendoza takes a look at who and what the water restrictions will affect the most, from golf courses to farmers to individual residents. Mendoza notes that the drought has already been felt in the electric power supply, as over the past three years it, “has cost California ratepayers $1.4 billion more for electricity than in average years, because parts of the state have had to shift from hydropower to natural gas, according to a recent report by the nonprofit think tank Pacific Institute, based in Oakland.”

From the water used in natural resource extraction, to the water used for electricity generation, to the water we use in our own homes and businesses, water is a critical link energy economy. Jane Palmer pulled apart these issues for Inside Energy in her look at the energy-water nexus: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4.