California Business Leaders Share Opinions on Water Supply and Resiliency
Through our Flash Poll conducted in March, 67 professionals representing 19 industries, including professional services, manufacturing, real estate, education and community-based organizations shared their perspectives on the very timely topic of water supply and resiliency, infrastructure, conservation, capture and storage and other sustainable solutions to address California’s current situation. Overall, the poll found:
- The theme of capture and storage is top of mind.
- Recent rains and lifting of restrictions do not seem to have yet had a significant impact on opinions toward water supply and resiliency.
- The on-going crisis is more about water management than it is about water supply and was very likely preventable if planning had been better and other solutions had been considered.
- Climate change is still seen as having a significant impact on our water supply and resiliency.
- Restrictions will have a very limited impact on the problem.
- There are many major obstacles to overcoming the on-going challenges.
- Newer approaches (many that perhaps should have been enacted years ago) are most likely to lead to positive and sustainable outcomes now.
- There may be some creative ideas that have not been given sufficient consideration.
For a detailed analysis of all poll responses, please continue to our blog…
Hindsight is 20/20 – Better Plans Might Have Averted the Water Crisis…
Everyone understands how we got here, and over two-thirds of respondents expressed that there should have been more effective plans in place by now. This was also the top choice last June when we asked the same question. The deluge of the last few months does not seem to be changing many opinions, as barely one out of ten pointed to the positive impact of the recent storms with 7.6% expressing that the water supply infrastructure is better off now and only 3% going all in on the drought being over. The impact of climate change was cited by over 15% of respondents – more than doble where it was last year.
Poll Question: When I think of the current water supply issues, the first thing that comes to mind is…
68.2% There should have been more effective plans in place by now
15.2% It is a problem directly related to climate change
7.6% Our water supply infrastructure is better off now than it was a year ago
3.0% I don’t think about it
3.0% The drought is over because we had a lot of rain this winter
1.5% I am panicking about this
1.5% It is cyclical and will get better
0% I don’t understand how we got here
Water Management is the Main Issue…
94% of respondents classify the on-going water resiliency challenge as a water “management” issue. Almost 30% consider it to be exclusively a management issue and another 65% express that it is a combination of management and supply. Less than 2% look at it as mainly a supply issue.
Poll Question: Consider the statement: “We do not have a water supply problem, we have a water management problem.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?
65.2% I think the problem is a combination of both (supply and management)
28.8% I agree 100%
1.5% I think it is mainly a supply problem
Controllable Factors Identified as Root Cause of Current Challenges
Just as poll respondents expressed that we have not succeeded at putting plans in place and we have a water management issue rather than a supply issue, the root cause of our problems is overwhelmingly identified as preventable factors. As it was last year, the top cause identified was an insufficient focus on infrastructure and sustainable polices (included by 58%), followed closely by misguided action by government and public agencies at 49% and government inaction at 48%. Less controllable factors (climate change) were identified by 15% – identical to last year.
Poll Question: I believe that the root cause of our current water supply and delivery challenges can be traced to…
58% Insufficient focus on infrastructure and sustainable practices
49% Misguided action by government and public agencies
48% Inaction by government and public agencies
29% Growth-focused policies that did not factor in water conservation and efficiency
20% Insufficient conservation efforts
15% Issues relating to climate change
9% We’re not getting our fair share of the Colorado River water allocation
9% Other (Please Specify)
Other responses included…
- Outdated water rights, Big Ag misusing water
- Water Reclamation!! Can’t believe we are still talking about this. Until we are capturing, managing and treating all the rain that is washing into Santa Monica Bay, we get an F for failure! Period!
- Politicians are focused on what sounds good rather than real solutions. For example, focus on not using water for plants when trees would improve, air quality, reduce heat and beautify neighborhoods, but it takes a long time to see the results.
- misuse of funds collected from taxpayers for dams and other water retention infrastructure
- Insufficient conservation and infrastructure focus, climate change, and inaction by government.
- Not enough water retention facilities
Wide Range of Obstacles Preventing the Resolution of Water Supply Challenges
Resolving the water supply challenge will not be easy, as there are many major challenges identified by poll respondents. Of the nine contributing factors listed, all were classified as either a major or minor obstacle by at least 78% of respondents. Leading the way was the lack of a comprehensive stormwater capture system – identified as a major obstacle by 85%. Also identified as a major obstacle by at least two-thirds of respondents were the inability of states, municipalities and local agencies to reach agreement and the real world challenge of inconsistent supply and increasing demand (69%). Farming and agricultural challenges (while still rating as a major or minor concern by over 75%) had the highest “Insignificant” rating at 22% for the high demand on supplies (22%) and the environmental concerns of getting water to cities and farms (18%).
Poll Question: Rate the following as either a major obstacle, minor obstacle or insignificant obstacle preventing California from resolving its on-going water supply challenge…
|No comprehensive stormwater capture system in place
|Inability of states, municipalities and local water agencies to reach agreement
|Inconsistent supply and increasing demand
|Money and other resources needed to fix aging infrastructure (including the water supply system)
|Possibility of significant decrease in allocation of Colorado River water
|Moving water over great distances to meet demand
|The high demand on water supplies by agriculture and farming
|Environmental concerns relating to getting water to cities and farms
|Excessive groundwater pumping especially in the Central and San Joaquin Valleys
Water Restrictions are Not the Answer
While there was a noticeable increase in the willingness to accept some of the benefits of restrictions on water use for businesses and residences, the overall consensus was that the restrictions will only be helpful if combined with other initiatives (identified by 51%), that the restrictions will have minimal impact on the problem (identified by 36%) and that the benefits will only be short term (identified by 30%). The primary benefit identified this year (as it was last year) is that the restrictions will get people to pay attention (identified by 25%). Interestingly, over one in five expressed that the restrictions will enable our water supply to be sustainable for the future. While 9% feel they will have zero impact on the problem, a surprising 7% expressed that the restrictions will significantly help alleviate the problem.
Poll Question: Restricting water use for businesses and residences will…(select all that apply)
51% Only be helpful if combined with other initiatives
36% Have minimal impact on the problem
30% Help alleviate the problem only in the short term
25% Get people to pay attention
21% Enable our water supply to be sustainable for the future
9% Have no impact on the problem
7% Help significantly to alleviate the problem
Capture and Storage Should be the Focus of Long-Term Solutions
Just as capture and storage was the highest-ranked “major” obstacle, it is also seen as the most realistic long-term solution for on-going supply and delivery challenges, included by 75% of respondents. Building off the need to “improve” that existing strategy, the concept of expediting new technologies, including water extraction and desalinization was the second highest choice included by 51%. Close behind was the related concept of incentivizing conservation and efficiency efforts included by 43%. Interestingly, strict conservation for businesses (18%) and for homes (12%) still have some popularity.
Poll Question: What do you consider to be the most realistic, long-term solutions to on-going water supply shortages and delivery challenges (Select up to 5)
75% Increasing capture and storage capabilities
51% Expediting new technologies like extracting water out of the air or desalination
48% Incentivizing water conservation and efficiency activities and technologies including gray water recycling, rainwater harvesting, restricted flow fixtures, monitoring devices, etc.
43% Improving public-private collaboration
36% Reducing regulatory restrictions
30% Repurposing some agricultural land to support water resiliency
19% Increasing government funding
18% Strict water conservation for businesses
12% Strict water conservation at home
6% Nothing. It is cyclical and will end
We Asked and You Answered…
Almost half of respondents shared their ideas for solving water supply and resiliency challenges. Interestingly, most of the suggestions followed in line with the feedback provided throughout the poll. The suggestions fell in several broad categories – Capture and Storage, Environmental, Growth and New Technology, Agricultural and Other. Also interesting – very few could keep it to ten words or less!
Poll Question: Do you have an idea for solving our water supply and resiliency challenges that is not getting enough attention? If so, share it with us (in 10 words or less)
53% I do not have any ideas to share
47% Yes. My idea is below:
Capture and Storage
- Storage facility, river flow control (small Dams, dredging and trenching
- We have to be able to store water. Household restrictions only piss people off. During these current storms. water is just going out into the ocean, stupid. Keep that stupid Newsom out of the loop
- Capture much more of the water when it actually comes, store it and save it for a rainy day! (Pun intended)
- use the billions of dollars collected by the state over the last number of years from taxpayers to build dams and other infrastructure to retain water – in a year like this, we should not have over 95% of water running off to the ocean. Also, the farms and farmers are not your enemy
- Underground rainwater capture and storage for homes and businesses.
- More storage, private and public sensible conservation.
- Make a significant decrease in water usage labeled as “environmental”
- Require permeable hard surfaces (asphalt & concrete) for new / replacement installations.
Growth and New Technology-Focused
- Expediting new technology with help of private sector (including big tech) and academia.
- Build several new generation nuclear power plants and use some of the electricity to operate desalination plants. If you build the plants in the north, the desalinated water can conveyed in the existing canal system.
- De-salination and way more dams
- Create initiative for usage of inexpensive remotely read (individual device) submeters, primarily on residential rentals. In the city of LA alone, there is a need for approximately 5,000,000 devices on master metered rental properties. Saves water, affordable housing infrastructure, money and is a significant entry level jobs initiative (one or two day training).
- Nuclear/Gas plants powering desalinization reducing future water/energy cost.
- In addition to using farmland for refilling depleted aquifers, also consider using abandoned oil & gas wells to do the same. Of course, we’ll need to incentivize the past oil operators to clean up after themselves.
- Promote regenerative farming practices with carrot not stick. Don’t blow up dam
- Stop building tract homes in areas where there is no water left, demanding more equitable water share allocation and incentivizing or making sprinkler systems for decorative lawns illegal.
- The population continues to grow and although we had a rainstorm that hopefully brought us out of the drought if not close to be out of a drought, we must still push to conserve our water by educating and reminding the public thru advertising and social media. We may be out of the drought now but let’s continue to be conservative of our use,
- Entities with old water rights need to conserve like everyone else.
- Look at what is being done in other countries
- Get rid of all democrats
SOME ADDITIONAL OPEN-ENDED COMMENTS
- Politics has replaced long term decision making therefore all current solutions involve short term popular small gains at the expense of long term success. Major infrastructure investments require less popular solutions in favor of sustainable and responsible solutions such as using our natural resources for base power instead of solar and wind which are intermittent. It sounds great to push “green” energy, but it can’t be used as based power and base power can be run with California natural gas and nuclear power very efficiently and cleanly.
- Draining full reservoirs to deal with potential floods is so maddening and clearly indicates that we have a massive storage/infrastructure problem! No foresight, advanced planning or new ideas/thoughts. Just the same old song and dance by those in charge.
- It is important for all Californians to do their part to conserve and use water wisely. There are many ways businesses and individuals can contribute to this voluntarily. The more we do on our own, the less government will need to “force” us to conserve. Agriculture businesses need to do their part as well regardless of our legal water rights structure.
- The moment we get a rainy year, people put this on the back burner. We don’t have dry years – we live in an arid zone that occasionally gets good rains. We must treat it as such. It is so unfair that Mexico doesn’t even see the Colorado River anymore. Water is our most precious resource and we need to treat it as such.
- This shouldn’t be a problem anymore. California Droughts have been a known problem for decades and our focus is on electricity instead of water. People can survive with electricity. We can not survive without water.
- I read that the Resnicks with their almond farming has a major impact on water. That should be stopped along with arrowhead water and vineyards. I love California wines but food first
- Water is the biggest challenge facing California today.
- Build more storage capacity. Sell LA water by the bottle $1.00 each. California should not take so much Colorado River water. We need to desalinate.