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OP-ED: California Water Action Plan
July 05, 2014, 05:00 AM By Art Kiesel

Art Kiesel

I recently focused on the water shortage problems we face in California. This piece will focus on some of the strategies the state is taking to combat our drought dilemma. Make no mistake, without a long-term water plan, California as a whole will be facing continued drought conditions. We at the local level will be implementing green (now turning to brown) grass alternatives, the problem is much larger for the state. We boast, and deservedly so, of our park system to be among the best on the Peninsula and maybe the state. Although we have done a stellar job of water conservation over the past several years, it is not the entire answer as we cannot conserve to zero water usage.

As the chair of the Housing, Community and Economic Development Policy Committee for the League of California Cities representing members of all 58 counties, one of the more recent topics for discussion was the California Water Action Plan. The comments and perspectives from the various committee members were most enlightening. Each showed a passion for the need to address the water shortage issue but from various points of view from agriculture needs to bedroom communities and industrial needs.

On the first page of the document is a quote from Gov. Jerry Brown’s State of the State speech from Jan. 22, 2014, as follows “Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic. We can’t control it. We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration.” The phrase that really caught my attention was “drought of uncertain duration” which got me into thinking about our long-term water issues.

The plan does a reasonably good job of presenting the issues in the introduction which fits my style of fully defining the problem before developing solutions. The major areas of issues to be addressed that are outlined in the plan is uncertain water supplies, drought, declining groundwater supplies, poor water quality, declining native fish species and loss of wildlife habitat, floods, supply disruptions, population growth and climate change.

There are many California residents who either lived in another state or some of our youth were not born yet when we experienced a flood in 1995 when 48 of California’s 58 counties had to declare a state of emergency or when the Bay Area experienced mudslides from the heavy rains of the early 1980s. Using water sparingly is one aspect but surviving a deluge is another. Mother Nature works on her own timetable and we need to be prepared for both extremes.

The plan addresses more water storage. When it does rain, and hopefully sooner rather than never, we will need to employ a more comprehensive and complex water management system so that the ecosystem is not impacted. Implementation of the plan will take money — lots of money starting with an $11 billion bond expected to be on the November 2014 ballot.

The California Water Action Plan is an easy read but its implications will be the basis for how we go about our lives in the future with much more restrictions on our water usage. The plan can be obtained at

There is currently proposed legislation in Sacramento to ease some of the environmental requirements for the installation of recycled water piping. We fully expect that a lot more legislation will be introduced as needed and as the plan progresses through rollout. Water will become a more expensive commodity in the future and we will need to pay more attention to budgeting water as we do money in our checkbooks. We citizens will be faced with making water conservation a way of life. Growing up in San Francisco as I have, if I needed water, a turn of the tap satisfied that need. Green grass in our parks will in some cases be a thing of the past as we have been replacing the grass in our parks with synthetic turf sports fields. Currently, we have one pipe reaching our homes providing us with water. In the future, we will have two pipes attached to our homes the second of which will provide recycled water for our irrigation needs.

There is some serious talk of El Niño weather conditions making matters even worse. And should our next winter provide us with increased levels of rainfall, I hope we as a society do not revert back into complacency as we have in the past.

Art Kiesel is the vice mayor of Foster City. He can be reached at or 573-7359.



Tags: water, california, state, drought, money, which,

Other stories from today:

Letter: Cheneys blame Obama
Why we celebrate Independence Day
OP-ED: California Water Action Plan

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