Head of the Drought Task Force said that a dozen or so small towns face running out of water in the next 60 days. The prospect of trucking water, or bringing in mobile desal plants, looms. Some of these towns may be very poor, and haven’t had the wealth to make their water supply resilient (second tank, line to a different source, pump lower in their reservoir to reach more volume). Some of them may simply not have other sources. Some of them, though, may have been living in denial about the risk of bad events. They may have had the wealth but been unwilling to pay higher rates.
Were it mine to do, I’d say that we, the people of the State, will help you once. Before a water truck arrives, you show us your new property tax assessment for water infrastructure that can withstand three dry years. The water trucks will arrive the day after you pass a rate structure that adequately funds your water reliability. We will not take your lack of water more seriously than you do. We will not truck water to you all summer without proof that you will not let this happen again. We don’t want to leave you with no aid at all if you don’t do this; we can post a few National Guard corps here to protect your empty homes against looters.
Communities that simply do not have the wealth to be resilient against climate variability pose a choice to the State. This drought is an example of the more variable climate future we expect. How long do we support people’s choices to live where they want if they don’t have the resources to provide for their water reliability? There are policy arguments for all sides, but it isn’t the kind of question that is pleasant to debate explicitly.