- Feb 12:
- Contra Costa Times editorial: Water districts should impose conservation measures now
- Feb 7:
- California Drought: Desperately needed rain, courtesy of "Pineapple Express" slamming into California
- Feb 6:
- Drought doesn't mean doom for your plants
- Rain soaks Bay Area, another storm coming
- California drought: Big rain headed toward Bay Area could double dismal rainfall totals
- Feb 5:
- California drought: House water bill exposes deep partisan divide
- Feb 4:
- Fremont district urges conservation, offers water-saving program as drought persists
- Gov. Jerry Brown calls congressional Republican drought bill 'divisive'
- Roadshow: Caltrans watering less as drought continues
- Feb 3:
- North Bay homeowners slash water usage through creative conservation
- California drought: Biggest rainfall of 2014 soaks Bay Area
- Jan 31:
- California drought: State Water Project will deliver no water this summer
- Gov. Brown says flush less as California struggles with drought
- Drought shakes off winter for perilous early spring
- Jan 30:
- Obama pledges support amid California drought
- California wine industry reports robust 2013, but worries loom about drought
- Drizzle brings hope to thirsty California but does nothing to deter drought
- Jan 29:
- Bay Area wakes up to drizzle as light rain appears for first time in more than a month
- Zone 7 Water Agency seeks 20 percent voluntary water reduction from customers
- Jan 28:
- California drought: 17 communities could run out of water within 60 to 120 days, state says
- Jan 27:
- Water oak trees if needed, but not too much
- Rain expected this week won't put dent in the drought, forecasters say
- Gold prospectors take advantage of California drought
- California drought: Bay Area water districts start asking urban residents to conserve
- Jan 26:
- After decades of payments, EBMUD may finally use its emergency water supply
- Jan 25:
- California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say
- Jan 23:
- Around Dublin: Do your part now to get ahead of drought
- Jan 22:
- Drought: California is a red state, if you're talking weather
- Jan 21:
- California drought: Tips for conserving water
- Jan 18:
- Snow makers rescue big Sierra resorts as drought bakes smaller ones
- Jan 17:
- Brown declares California drought emergency
- California drought: Three more months of dry weather likely, National Weather Service announces
- Jan 16:
- Drought declared a natural disaster in California, 10 other states
- Jan 14:
- Drought imperils California salmon, steelhead
- California drought: What's causing it?
- Jan 10:
- Despite California drought, chances for water bond are evaporating
- Jan 8:
- Timm Herdt: Learning to adapt to droughts
- Jan 3:
- Barnidge: California droughts aren't nearly as scary as they used to be
- Dec 29:
- California drought deepens as another year's rains stay away
There is no sign this drought will end anytime soon. Last weekend's rains were only a small down payment on the precipitation deficit. We must start conserving now because we don't want to look back when the shortage hits a crisis point and say, "we should have &"
We should have used less water. We should have imposed rationing. We should have more quickly required metering of all California households. We should have set water prices to better discourage consumption.
To be sure, agriculture is responsible for 80 percent of the state's water consumption. While farmers are important to the state's economy and world food supply, that's not justification for abusive, wasteful consumption by some, most notably the Kern County Water Agency and Westlands Water District, which for years have pushed efforts to waive environmental laws and pump water from the north without regard to impacts on others.
Water begins to collect in Lake Oroville at Lime Saddle Marina as rain returned to help with drought conditions Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 in Paradise, Calif. (Jason Halley/Chico Enterprise-Record)
But solving that problem requires overcoming ugly, partisan politics and long-standing legal fights over water rights. Meanwhile, the rest of the state's water districts can do more to more efficiently serve residential, industrial and business consumers.
That was made clear by reporters Paul Rogers and Nicholas St. Fleur's examination in Sunday's paper of water usage across California. If one picture is worth a thousand words, then the front page graphic was that picture.
It showed a stark divide in per-capita water consumption -- but not between north and south as we northerners so often imagine. It was between coastal and inland regions. Blame not Los Angeles residents' swimming pools, but rather excess in Palm Springs and the Central Valley.
That said, we all can -- and must -- do better.
Although we would like to believe that voluntary measures will do the trick, we know better. Tiered pricing should be immediately implemented for agencies like the Contra Costa Water District that still don't have it. All districts should ratchet up rates for large consumers while rewarding those who are frugal users. Those who complain of increasing bills should remember they have an alternative: Use less water.
Unfortunately, such rate changes aren't possible in parts of the state. That's because some Central Valley districts still don't have water meters, and so still must charge a flat rate no matter the amount consumed. Meters will not be mandatory for another 11 years. That's too long.
Conservation programs, with incentives for installing low-flow shower heads and toilets and replacement of lawns with drought-resistant landscaping, should be stepped up to ensure all households are retrofitted as quickly as possible.
We must not wait. The time for action is now.