Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

David Nahai talks to Climate Watch

My good friend, and southern California's great reporter, Ilsa Setziol, interviews David Nahai for our neighbor-to-the-north's ClimateWatch blog. You can read her interview, about watering restrictions, renewable energy, and Propposition 23/AB 32, at their site.

Much of it's ground we covered back in May with an interview that you can listen to elsewhere on this site. (There's also extended interviews on that site specifically on DWP leadership and renewable energy in California.) But he did say some things we haven't heard before about watering restrictions, and he did acknowledge the challenge of enforcing water restrictions when city leaders aren't fully on board with them.

Can the city still cut consumption with a three-day regime? If everyone went to three days a week, we wouldn’t have as much savings, but it wouldn’t be negligible. But enforcing water restrictions isn’t simply a matter of enacting the law. It’s a matter of motivating Angelenos to rally to a cause, because the law cannot be enforced on a daily basis by a water conservation team that is not a platoon. What is needed is the stigma of wasting a precious commodity unnecessarily.?? My concern is some of the council members made certain statements that tended to undermine the resolve of Angelenos as far as water cutbacks, and it left only the price signal of the rate adjustment.

You’re referring to Councilman Greig Smith, who openly ignored the ordinance, and Council President Eric Garcetti who said his wife couldn’t keep her plants alive on twice weekly watering. It would help if city council members weren’t being defiant of the law. ??People think the drought and the challenge is over. I see it in restaurants where the minute you sit down water is served to you. The law still says restaurants are not supposed to serve water to people unless it’s specifically requested. To continue with business as usual is very shortsighted.??We’ll never be free of our dependence on external water. What we can do is to decrease that dependence somewhat. The other reason it is so important for Los Angeles to do this is various interests are vying for limited water resources—Northern California, Southern California, and agricultural interests. In order to have a dialogue that’s credible we have to act responsibly ourselves.  [If we conserve], nobody can accuse us of hypocrisy.

Nahai has been actively campaigning against Proposition 23, as well as consulting for the Clinton Climate Initiative. Now he's co-chairing Lewis Brisbois's energy, environmental and water practice and real estate practice as well.