Water-starved California slows development
Jennifer Steinhauer, NY Times, June 7, 2008
As California faces one of its worst droughts in two decades, building projects are being curtailed for the first time under state law by the inability of developers to find long-term water supplies.
Water authorities and other government agencies have begun denying, delaying or challenging authorization for dozens of housing tracts and other developments under a state law that requires a 20-year water supply as a condition for building. The state law was enacted in 2001, but until statewide water shortages, it had not been invoked to hold up projects.
“The water in our state is not sufficient to add more demand,” said Lester Snow, the director of the California Department of Water Resources. “And that now means that some large development can’t go forward. If we don’t make changes with water, we are going to have a major economic problem in this state.”
Governor Schwarzenegger sees addressing the state’s water problem as one of his key goals, and he is hoping against the odds to get a proposed $11.9 billion bond for water management investments through the Legislature and before voters in November. The plans calls for water conservation and quality improvement programs, as well as a resource management plan for the delta. Among its most controversial components is $3.5 billion earmarked for new water storage, something that environmentalists have vehemently opposed, in part because they find dams and storage facilities environmentally unsound and not cost effective. The critics also point out that the state’s agriculture industry, which uses far more water than urban areas, is being asked to contribute little to conservation under the governor’s plans.
Read the complete story here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/07/us/07drought.html?ex=1213416000&en=bb2d5c43a447a415&ei=5070&emc=eta1