What is to be done? We need to collaborate nationally and globally to reduce global warming and move in the direction of an environmentally sustainable world that manages water resources judiciously and humanely.
At the same time, we in California have to address urgent problems of water scarcity and quality that are local to our own state.
The California Constitution holds that the state’s water is a public resource, to be used for “reasonable and beneficial use … in the interest of the people and for the public welfare.” This principle is elaborated in the California Water Code (106.3): “It is hereby declared to be the established policy of the state that every human being has the right to safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water adequate for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes.”
However, In a time of drought and severe freshwater shortage, this universal human right is being trampled on. Underserved households and communities that are already suffering environmental injustices face especially severe conditions of water scarcity and pollution.
Better public management of California’s water resources is urgently called for:
Water in Western states has been a subject of controversy since the beginning of the 20th century. Recommended sources of information:
Mark Reisner, Cadillac Desert (1986)
Mark Arax, The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water And Dust Across California (2019)
Food & Water Watch, Big Ag, Big Oil and California’s Big Water Problem (2021)