THE CALIFORNIA WATER CRISIS: Myths
and Facts About California's Water
By: Sarah Bernheim
Headlines are screaming that California is running
out of water. While it is true that the water crisis in
California is reaching critical mass, it is important to
tone down the hysteria and find rational,
responsible, long-term solutions.
A smart start is separating myth from fact in an
effort to find viable and intelligent answers to
California's water woes.
Here are some of the most common myths
surrounding the California water crisis.
MYTH: California is out of water.
FACT: California is not out of water, it is experiencing a limited supply of sufficient excess water to meet
its current and future needs. The answer is not to magically find more water at any cost, but to more
efficiently use the resources that we have. This can be done by better education and more effective
application of current policies and remedies.
MYTH: Conservation is the only answer.
FACT: Conservation is one answer, but it only a small piece of the puzzle. A more logical and viable
solution to the bigger picture is more efficient use of resources by making changes that actually affect
Conservation doesn't sufficiently address the issue of non-renewable water supply, that is water that is
consumed, i.e. drank, evaporated, used in manufacturing; instead it focuses on water sources that can
For example, water conservation focuses on the person watering their lawn, which is a renewable use of
water. The same reasoning applies to agricultural use. The planting of drought-resistant grasses and
crops that use less water to begin with is a more sensible long-term approach.
To focus conservation on renewable water usage is well-intentioned, but only leads to a 20 percent
overall reduction and savings. The priority in water conservation needs to shift to non-renewable water
MYTH: The "Villain of the day" is responsible for the water crisis.
FACT: Government, farmers, and industry have all taken a turn at being the culprit of the current crisis.
While there is a little bit of blame to share, the fact is that the native climate of California, coupled with
persistent drought and an increase in population and demand play a bigger part.
The realities of the environment in which we all live require the development of new strategies in all
sectors to better manage available resources, and better planning to foresee and forestall such
shortages in the future.
MYTH: More laws are the solution to the problem.
FACT: Throwing more legislation at the problem only delays finding real solutions. The answer to the
legislation issue is better enforcement of the policies and legislation that is already in place.
MYTH: There is no solution.
FACT: There is a solution to the problem of water shortages, but it involves a little sacrifice and flexibility
on the part of everyone concerned. It also involves better educating residents, agriculture, and industry
on adapting to more efficient resource-management strategies.