Farm Press Blog

Water: California cannot afford misplaced priorities


Table of Contents:

  • Century of kicking the can down the road recently ruptured under busy Los Angeles street
  • Estimated 60 acre feet of water lost from broken water main
  • Millions of dollars in damage likely done to UCLA campus


The recent water main break next to the UCLA campus in southern California puts an exclamation point on California’s broken water delivery system.

It’s certainly interesting to learn that there are century-old water pipes under a city that prides itself on lavish spending in a region that boasts billions of dollars spent over the past 20 years to improve water supplies and deliveries to roughly half the state’s residents.

Earlier this year I listened to an executive with Metropolitan Water District of Southern California talk about what the agency accomplished since the early 1990’s to ensure residents had flowing water when they turned on their taps. The message of the executive wasn’t merely what they accomplished, but the demonstrated foresight that is sorely lacking elsewhere in California.

Later this year Californians could get to vote on a water bond measure – the exact cost of the bond has not been nailed down, but could be in the neighborhood of $10 billion – that will ostensibly move the Golden State into the later 20th Century in terms of its water supply and deliver.

Too bad we’re already living in the 21st Century.

While it was easy to joke with my farmer friends over who could use upwards of 60 acre feet of water for their dying crops (The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power estimated 20 million gallons was lost from the rupture), there was a definite irony in the timing of the break: California announced mandatory fines for those wasting water within hours of the break.

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