OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
Our County and State have managed themselves into a Water Crisis. Yes, there is an historic drought, but not unanticipated. Decades of allowing some to profit from population growth while ignoring Sustainability and the quality of life requirements of current residents, voters, and taxpayers are the real cause of our difficulties. As was pointed out at Assemblyman Berman’s drought webinar on 7/1, our state’s water system was designed for 10 million people. We have 40 million. Residents have paid with their money, their parched lawns, their dirty cars, and their stained toilets to enable population expansions benefiting others. When your growth harms the health, safety and well-being of others, it’s time to stop – until growth pays for itself, and brings its own water. This position might not be popular, or easy, but I submit anything less is unfair to current residents of our County and State. Oh, and Disastrous.
Here was my statement to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Gregg Dieguez – MCC council member speaking as an individual.
“I would have spoken to you on this matter sooner, but you wouldn’t have believed me. However, now that the Urban Water Management Plans for the Bay Area Water Agencies have been released this month, after a year delay, it should be clear that the water supply in our county is insufficient in the face of a drought that appears to be the worst in our recorded history. It is worth noting that in the Middle Ages, before this human-caused climate crisis, natural climate shifts in California produced droughts of over 120 and 200 years. Now, things are worse. As Felicia Marcus, former head of the state water board said: “We can’t conserve our way out of this drought.”
What can we do? We can spend billions of dollars and decades to develop new water sources, and redo the water supply system in the state. Previous estimates by the Pacific Institute were that water would cost 5 to 7 times current prices, but Valley Water in Santa Clara is already spending 10 times normal prices. Our county can no longer hope to have “affordable” housing. The open question is “Will it be LIVABLE”?
My request of you, the Board of Supervisors, is twofold:
1. Study the water shortage immediately. Determine based on materials from our water supply agencies just how severe it is, and what can be done. For example, you will find shortages of 51-59% projected in 5 yr. droughts, but you might not know that those figures assume continued conservation over coming years amounting to 17% of current per capita use. Thus, the sustainable shortages are really more like 68% to 76% for some agencies. Come up with a plan to restructure our economy and infrastructure that is sustainable, and survivable.
2. Immediately use whatever statutory authority you have, to declare a drought emergency and immediately cease all industrial, retail, and residential construction which requires water, and all population expansions. Our Society, and this County as we know it, has to change. One way or another, it will. The question for the Board is: will it be by choice, or disaster?“
There has been plenty of evidence presented that we’re in a major drought, and that we are not planning properly. See the following for readable summaries of our predicament, and our failures:
The extent of the drought and implications for our local water supplies: Drought: What, Me Worry?
Pacifica’s unsustainable and poorly governed expansion plans: High and Dry in Pacifica
Half Moon Bay’s failure to plan realistically: Half Moon Bay: Planning To Fail?
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is a member of the MCC, but his opinions here are his own, and not those of the Council. In 2003 he co-founded MIT’s Clean Tech Program here in NorCal, which became MIT’s largest alumni speaker program. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.