Pacific Swell

Southern California environment news and trends

California Drought News: Sex in shower conservation, and freedom in water markets...a summer of love?

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87311 full

Friday's news is going to make you wait for it...when it comes to an explanation for the picture above.

The Wall Street Journal takes on pricing and other big-think policies that various authors claim are worsening the drought.

  • Those higher food prices Jed wrote about yesterday? Alyssia Finley, assistant editor of, says they're the fault of environmentalists, and higher food prices will be the way the rest of the country will pay for California's "green sanctimony." (WSJ)
  • Economist Edward Lazear argues that "government-dictated prices, coupled with restrictions on the transfer of water, have made a bad situation much worse." He takes aim at the state's limitations on water transfers (lifted, he doesn't note; but he argues that pricing distorts the need for transfers anyway). He argues that public agencies that protect environmental conditions with water should pay for the privilege:
Although there may be good reasons to ensure that some fish and wildlife be protected, we should not pretend that this protection is costless. Agencies that divert water for environmental purposes should be required to budget explicitly for the lost revenue associated with the decision to divert it for this purpose, rather than allowing it to be sold at the market price for urban or agricultural use. (WSJ)

...and he argues that farmers, who might have to pay more for water on a more-open market, should get extra money to help them transition to the free market.

  • Cato loves Lazear's arguments, and offers one amendment. Chris Edwards wants the federal government to get out of the water business, and in California, to hand over the Central Valley Project to the state. (Cato)
  • In other business news, it's going to be a mixed bag for boat businesses at California recreation areas this summer. They're nervous in Tahoe, but overall expect to benefit from Folsom Lake's bad year. (TradeOnly Today)
  • CNN gets into the Firehawk, which is a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter with a giant water tank on it. L.A. County owns a few. They're going to be busy this summer, thanks to the drought. (CNN)
  • And finally, in a move that reminds me of the time I wanted to name this blog "Hot, Wet, Climate Action," the San Francisco Public Utility Commission has a new, sexy (or is it sexxy?) campaign to conserve water, with words like "QUICKIE" and "DOING IT" popping out of copy alongside minimalist pictures of pieces of water plumbing. My favorite is "DIRTY HANDS" with its faucet shot to look like a piece of anatomy. (SFPUC)

VIDEO: Get paid for doing it nice!

How has your community been affected by the drought (besides getting more suggestive ads about jiggling the toilet handle)? Share your story with a photo on Twitter or Instagram. Tag it #mydrought. For more details on our photo project, click here.

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