Addressing drought impacts: water or money?

My post below illuminates the most common form of drought mismanagement.  In my observation, when a drought is pending, the newly appointed* drought manager thinks: where can I find water?  This distracts them for the remainder of the drought, because in a drought there is very little water to be found.

Instead, the first thing the newly appointed drought manager should do is divide drought problems into two kinds: there is the kind that requires water and the kind that can be fixed with money.  You can tell the difference by the following test: if I dropped a million dollars in cash on the problem, would it go away?  Problem: salmon are cooking in the too-warm Sacramento River.  If I dropped a million dollars into the river, that would not solve the problem.  That drought problem requires the unique properties of water.  We should reserve the scarce resource with unique properties for this type of problem.  Problem: farmworkers are suffering from lack of farm jobs.  If I dropped a million dollars into their town, the problem of suffering would go away for a while, possibly for as long as the drought.  That drought problem can be addressed by something less unique and valuable than water; in a drought, we should use the more common resource to fix it.

 

*They are always newly appointed.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Addressing drought impacts: water or money?

  1. Tim McSweeney

    Good stuff.

    On Fri, Sep 2, 2016 at 3:08 PM, On the public record wrote:

    > onthepublicrecord posted: “My post below illuminates the most common form > of drought mismanagement. In my observation, when a drought is pending, > the newly appointed* drought manager thinks: where can I find water? This > distracts them for the remainder of the drought, because in ” >

  2. Diane Livia

    Let’s get dropping!

  3. This wonderful test also works for energy problems, and I plan to use it there. It’s brilliant.

  4. This is correct. How to pay for it? Revenue from TAXING the use of water, e.g., state auctions flows each year, public goods charge on rights, etc.

  5. jaylund

    As is often said, “There is never a shortage of water, only shortages of cheap water.” Droughts do cause suffering and losses, but often they also precipitate long-term reforms that improve water conditions (for some users) for decades to come.

  6. As to the problem of water in rivers being too warm to sustain the fish populations, the solution is to follow our own laws, or to change the laws.
    “The owner of any dam shall allow sufficient water at all times to pass over, around, or through the dam, to keep in good condition any fish that may be planted or exist below the dam.” California Fish and Game Code § 5937.
    https://californiawaterblog.com/2011/03/22/dammed-fish-call-5937/

    I’m no lawyer, but I am going to call water that is too warm to reproduce in is not “sufficient”. I’m no politician, but I don’t see a far bigger electorate in NorCal agreeing to change the law for SJ Valley farmers, especially for export crops.

    To me, it is only because these truths are so achingly evident that we are subjected to the bizarre spectacle of politicians gathering their special interests together to say silly things like “there is no proof that more flow helps the fish”.