California: No Vacancy

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Governor Jerry Brown (Official portrait)
Governor Jerry Brown
(Official portrait)

California has seen a 28 percent increase in its population over the last ten years. Simply put, this has to end. With over 38 million residents in the state, California is facing some serious issues that will not be solved by adding more people to the state.

Governor Jerry Brown has now stepped into the water crisis and has ordered a 25 percent decrease in water use statewide. Sorry, Jerry, but this is too little, too late. But then Brown was also the governor in the 1970’s when our state suffered through a terrible drought. Back then, he failed to enact a plan that would allow the state to continue to grow in population while ensuring it would have an ample supply of water. Today, we still lack in reservoirs, water conservation, and a general appreciation for just how valuable water is.

A recent survey shows just how clueless Californians are when it comes to water. Most residents believe the drought is a serious issue, but they also feel they are not the problem. In fact, most believe they do a better job of conserving water than their next-door neighbor. With this mind set, what will it take for residents to see they are part of the problem?

An across the board 25 percent reduction in water use statewide will do little to help this parched state. The San Joaquin Valley is a pile of dust and looks to remain that way for some time to come. Another year or two of drought and the Imperial Valley, a natural desert, and the Sacramento Valley, will also join the California Dust Bowl. If this happens, what will Brown order, a 25 percent reduction in the consumption of fruits and vegetables?

Oroville Lake is a main water source for the state. The "normal" water level is visible by the boat launch area. (Ohio State University)
Oroville Lake is a main water source for the state. The “normal” water level is visible by the boat launch area.
(Ohio State University)

Despite all of this doom and gloom, our state’s population continues to grow. How many more residents will this state add before Brown, or our next governor, decides to put an end to our growth? I am not a rocket scientist, but a 28 percent population increase out weighs a 25 percent water use decrease at a time in which our available water is 50 percent or less in many of our reservoirs. Unfortunately, our governor and other state leaders either can’t do basic math or have their heads buried deep in the Central Valley dust while they hope mother nature bails them out with some much needed rain and snow fall as our population keeps growing.

Currently, Orange County has a shortage of 62,000 homes or apartments for its population. This figure will only grow as long as the state continues to say, “yes,” to more residents moving here. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is on record saying he wants to add 100,000 more homes to the city by 2021. What are all these new residents going to use to bathe, drink, or wash their SUV’s with?

Governor Brown is asking current residents to curb their water use at a time in which he continues to encourage new home construction that will only increase the number of water users in the state. And he wonders why we have been so reluctant to voluntarily cut back on water use.

Add to this, the aging system of water lines in cities like Los Angeles that result in massive water losses due to ruptures, and we begin to question the urgency of water conservation. Does anyone remember the pictures of a flooded UCLA campus?

It’s time Governor Brown call for more than mandatory cutbacks and tiered water rates. These are mere Band-Aids aimed to stop the bleeding from a ruptured artery. Governor Brown needs to order the immediate halt to all new home construction and all other projects aimed at attracting more residents to this state. It’s time to turn on bright neon “No Vacancy” signs until this state has more ways of collecting, recycling, and replenishing what little water we have. Maybe then current residents will begin to do more on their end to conserve our most precious resource.