When the history of the past decade gets written, it will be peppered liberally with the word “unprecedented.”

California Governor Jerry Brown recently unveiled the state’s first water restrictions in response to the “mega-drought.” In a move that will surprise almost no one, our state legislature passed the “unprecedented” proposal:

California regulators approved sweeping, unprecedented restrictions Tuesday on how people, governments and businesses can use water amid the state’s ongoing drought in the hope of enticing residents to conserve more water.

The State Water Resources Control Board approved rules forcing cities to limit watering on public property, encouraging homeowners to let their lawns die and imposing mandatory water-savings targets for hundreds of local agencies and cities that supply water to California customers.

Gov. Jerry Brown sought to tighten the already strict regulations, arguing that voluntary conservation efforts have not yielded the water savings needed amid a four-year drought. Brown ordered water agencies to cut urban water use by 25 percent from levels in 2013, the year before the drought emergency was declared.

San Diego will be facing a 16% reduction. The regulators are of course blaming the citizens for not going along with the well-advertised voluntary water-use reduction campaign.

The action comes 15 months after Brown urged a voluntary 20% reduction in water use in January 2014.

“We asked to do a voluntary 20% and almost no one did,” said Water Board Member Frances Spivy-Weber. “And that’s why we have mandatory … It’s the price for not seizing the day.”

This excuse is a little perplexing to those of us who live in San Diego….as our water use dropped substantially at the end of 2014.

Water use in the San Diego region plummeted by 29 percent last month, compared to December 2013, the San Diego County Water Authority announced Thursday.

Water officials said the result was evidence that many residents, businesses and farmers turned off their irrigation systems for long periods of a series of rainstorms. The savings totaled 10,636 acre-feet, enough to serve more than 21,000 typical four-person households for a year, according to the agency.

But why let a few facts get in the way of new revenue-enhancing rules?

One development that is truly unprecedented, however, is Brown’s scale-back on several pieces of proposals enthusiastically embraced by environmental activists.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement Thursday that the state is scaling back part of a long-planned project to restore more than 100,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat and re-engineer the delta was a sign of how elusive that fix remains.

….State officials said they are also dropping plans to spend $8 billion in federal and state money to restore more than 100,000 acres of fish and wildlife habitat over the next five decades. Instead they are settling for a more modest — but, they said, more realistic — effort to improve 30,000 acres of habitat over the next four or five years at a cost of $300 million, funded with state bond money and other sources.

Since a lot of this activity was centered around protecting the Delta Smelt, and a single smelt was located in the last survey, this is the most sensible decision coming from Sacramento in some time.

And that is almost….unprecedented.


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