Chief Strategy Officer & Global Managing Director, Water, The Nature Conservancy
What California doesn't know about its own water use is staggering and scandalous.
The state has no precise idea how much water is diverted from rivers by farmers. It knows even less about how much groundwater pumping is going on. California has promised five times as much water as exists — and officials show no interest in reconciling “paper” water with reality.
Just as important, we know nothing of water's total price tag. Although every H2O molecule is identical, volumes of water aren't delivered at equal cost. To pump it from the ground and over mountains to distribute it takes enormous amounts of energy. Subsidies make this all artificially cheap: Taxpayers pay for the dams, aqueducts, electricity and interest.