California Drought Requires Urgent Action

San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed Calls for More Action on Drought

Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick wrote an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle calling water a “limited resource” and warning that “we will undermine our economy and our well-being if we don’t address unsustainable water use now.”


July 26, 2014 – Special to the San Francisco Chronicle: California Drought Requires Urgent Action

If California and much of the West is suffering from severe drought, then why have the responses to it been weak and largely ineffective? The answers are as complicated as California’s water system itself, with our wildly diverse sources and uses of water, prices and water rights, institutions, and more. But here are some observations.

By almost any definition, the current drought is severe. The U.S. Drought Monitor, which provides a rough measure of natural conditions, shows 100 percent of California to be in “severe” drought or worse. Other indicators, such as reservoir levels, river flows, water available to farmers and fish, fire risk and stream temperatures, also highlight the drought’s severity. This year will be one of the driest on record, and it is the third dry year in a row.

Based on these data, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January and asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent… (Read the full op-ed here.)