The Suits Are Making Moves: 3 State Decisions Shaping Our Water Future



Grandfathered-in Water Rights Holders
Are Being Told to Hold Their Hoses.

Days after we released our 101 dispatch on agriculture, a heated debate broke out in the San Joaquin Valley. That's because on June 12th, the State Water Resources Control Board told 100 of the oldest California farming properties that their water would be regulated just like everyone else's. Accustomed to drawing as much water as they’d like, owners of these lands are responding with impassioned pleas to return to business as usual.

California water rights holders are defined as either “pre-1914” or “post-1914,” in reference to the year California kicked off her cowboy boots and passed some serious water laws. Anyone who called “DIBS!” before 1914 were grandfathered-in with almost zero water restrictions—except in occasions of the most dire shortage.

According to the SWRCB, that occasion is now. But the VIP Farmers do not agree. These are big cash crop farms producing everything from cattle to tomatoes to grapes, and they claim for themselves huge economic importance worth the cost of water. They’re saying that water’s still out there, and that the state is responsible for handing it over to protect their business.

This debate will inevitably beg the question: can our environment support business as usual? Is cash more important than a river? Is that a really stupid question?



The SoCal Metropolitan Water District Expands Its Lawn-Crushing Cash Incentives.

After a hugely successful first year, the Metropolitan Water District has invested another $350,000,000 into more turf removal rebates for Southland water districts. Under Governor Jerry B’s restrictions, many of us have conservation benchmarks to meet this summer, especially in lawn-loving areas. (Check out this map to see how the restrictions will affect your neighborhood.)

Looks like NOW is the time to trade in your lawn for something a little more California-friendly. But before you call Turf Terminators and swap grass for gravel, may we suggest considering the greater sponge around you?

The real possibilities of a drought-tolerant green space are many. Gravel contributes to heat island effect, diminishes the usability of your property, and it looks like crap! Think holistic: If your kids play on your lawn, maybe you don’t need to rip it all out! Keep some for recreation, take out the excess, and plant diverse flora that benefit soil and recharge water into the ground.





Garcetti Unveils a New Plan to
Take LA to 50% Local Water Use.

Check out the pLAn to see a comprehensive and ambitious set of sustainability goals laid out by LA mayor Eric Garcetti this April. Scroll down to track the status and progress of coastal water quality, per capita water use, and the amount of locally-sourced water.

For that last stat, you’ll see that LA currently gets about 15% of its water locally. Garcetti wants to get to 50% by 2035 by way of retaining more stormwater that currently discharges into the LA River, building more water treatment facilities across the county, and funding large-scale stormwater recapture projects like the one in motion at LAX. This pLAn is so exciting, that the state is looking to possibly adopt it. Go LA!

Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara, CA