As drought drives prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water
As drought drive prices higher, millions of Californians struggle to pay for water
By Bill Labovag and Steve Gorman
July 27, 2013
The recent drought in California has brought a wave of complaints from property owners. They are upset because they are being asked to pay more for water.
The problem is that over 80 percent of California’s water supply comes from pumping ground. That’s why, when there has been a drought, the price of water has increased.
And because of the drought, some communities are facing short-term price increases and long-term declines. This is particularly evident in areas that get their water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a region that extends from California’s Central Valley to San Francisco Bay.
“As a community our water is for the city to use and for the city to consume,” said Bob Schafer, a spokesman for the Delta. “And we can’t use it all as fast as we would like to. You can’t just be good at conservation.”
The current California drought has been particularly destructive because of its long history. California officials have been trying to avoid water rationing by issuing “water transfers” to water-dense and water-stressed areas. The idea is to have those areas pump more water into the Delta from the Sacramento River.
According to the California Department of Water Resources, the transfers have brought water to 5 million customers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest transfer in state history. The water came from pumping ground, which is the most expensive form of water supply.
“The problem is we didn’t do it in the right places in the early days,” said Mark Tercek, a spokesman for the Department of Water Resources. “We’re in a good position with the way we treat water. All the water is put in the storage facilities, it’s brought to us by the Delta.”
To explain drought, the Department of Water Resources has issued a four-page report that is available