September 9, 2008

ACWA Comments on Report Regarding Ag Water Use

Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Executive Director Timothy Quinn issued the following statement regarding a new Pacific Institute report on agricultural water use efficiency.

"We agree that California must invest in water use efficiency in all sectors and at every level. It is imperative for our future. But this latest report from Pacific Institute does not offer practical approaches to achieve increased water use efficiency. Further, the report sidesteps the most pressing issue before us - how to improve the sustainability of our water supply infrastructure so it can work for the environment as well as our economy.

California must find workable ways to significantly increase our investments in water use efficiency and local resource development. But the command-and-control, heavy-handed regulatory approach to dictating water use decisions suggested in the report has little chance to succeed. The Delta's downward spiral will not be solved by mandating farmers to produce certain crops instead of others. Crop decisions are based on real-world market demands, not academic studies. Growers have a long record of responding to price signals, and they will continue to do so without the specter of water rights proceedings or other command-and-control approaches. Replacing reliance on market forces to make these decisions with centralized regulation is simply a bad idea.

The Pacific Institute report completely ignores some of the most pressing problems facing California resource managers. ACWA believes the best way to restore the Delta while keeping our economy intact is to modernize our water storage and conveyance system as part of a comprehensive solution that invests in every water management tool at our disposal, including water use efficiency. Two important public processes now under way - the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan - have concluded that the current physical system for storing and conveying water does not work for the environment or the economy. Does California need to do more to improve water use efficiency? Absolutely. But it also needs to fix an ailing water system that poses a direct threat to our environment and our economy."

ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose 450 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit