I would love detailed, concrete answers, if you have ’em.

DWR released initial allocations for next year’s State Water Project contracts, and based on empty reservoirs, said that everyone would be getting just about nothing. This is a very conservative estimate, and kinda to-be-ignored. They can’t say anything else until they know whether the winter snows are good. There were a whole spate of reactions in the news, with most big water players saying that this is why we should vote ‘yes’ on an $11B bond measure next year. All predictable, but I got curious about this:

A spokeswoman for Zone 7, the water agency for Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore, said that in a worst-case scenario it could draw on groundwater and possible rationing to weather the lack of storms.

“We can’t sustain this forever,” said

Zone 7 spokeswoman Boni Brewer, whose customers get 80 percent of their water from the Delta. “Long-term, we can’t sustain this. Short-term, were saying that we would be OK.”

First, Australia is in its tenth year of drought this year. Whenever Australians give talks here, the first thing they say is “it just kept going”. Their drought just kept on. I assume that was pretty brutal in years 4-6, but now they look chipper as they call it the new normal. I have no idea whether or how long the current drought will continue. But I want to know what, precisely, would happen to Zone 7 if it did. She says that “long-term, we can’t sustain this.” But a long-term drought is entirely plausible. So what would happen?

I assume she means that they can’t supplement with groundwater forever; their aquifers would dry out in some more years of this. Once that happens, if the SWP still can’t offer them much water, what can’t be sustained? Their current rate of new housing starts? The existence of lawns? Any industrial processes in the region? Their current water rates? What exactly am I scared of here? Loss of trappings of a middle class lifestyle? Decreased rates of growth? Dust bowl style evacuations, with Mad Max bandits living in the ruined suburbs?

Presumably there is some level of city in the Zone 7 service area that could be sustained indefinitely without SWP water. The size of that city depends a lot on lifestyle and efficiency (Both. I’m not using efficiency as a euphemism that covers lifestyle changes.). If Zone 7 cannot sustain what they’re doing now without SWP water, what do they intend to do if this drought lasts another ten or twenty years? That isn’t fiction. It is happening now in Australia.

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