Californias growing population will intensify the demand for water. According to the California Water Plan, by 2020 the state will face a water shortfall of 2.9 million acre-feet in average years. An acre-foot is approximately 326,000 gallons, enough to cover an acre of land one foot deep and supply a family of five for a year. In drought years, the shortfall will swell to 7 million acre-feet.
The forecast for the San Francisco Bay Area is far less dire. However, the projections assume a substantial increase in conservation efforts. The greatest water savings are anticipated through landscaping and irrigation in new and existing developments and aggressive conservation efforts by commerical and institutional establishments.
|Conservation Measures Needed to
Avert Future Water Shortages in Normal Rain Years in the San Francisco
||If the Bay Area is able to achieve these conservation goals, there will be enough water in average years to serve urban, agricultural and environmental customers. The problem occurs in drought years, when the regions water supply would be cut an estimated 24 percent. This would leave the region approximately 376,000 acre-feet short of its minimum requirements.|
To close, or at least shrink, its water gap in a drought, the region would need to step up its water conservation and recycling efforts. For example, water agencies would need to implement ambitious water-recycling plans and add storage capacity to existing dams. The region could also increase its water supplies through water transfer agreements with agencies outside the region and a state drought water bank. However, given that the rest of the state will be facing deeper water deficits, it is unlikely that the Bay Area, which already imports two-thirds of its urban water supply, will be able to import its way out of the problem. But, the way we manage growth can exacerbate or minimize our water problems.
Districts also impose widely varying fees to hook up to their distribution system. In many cases, new developments are charged no fee, or simply the marginal cost to extend serviceto install lines and metersrather than the full cost to replace or expand the system. The same is frequently true of industrial users. Residents in developed portions of the district share these costs, even though it would be unnecessary to replace or increase their water supply were it not for the new development. Plus, the more money spent on extensions, the less money districts have to maintain or upgrade, older neighborhoods.
Connection Fees Charged by San Francisco Bay Area Water Districts
for New Residential Units
As development spreads across the natural landscape, the regions waterways and water quality are threatened. Roofs, roads, parking lots, and other impenatrable surfaces prevent rainwater from percolating down through the soil to recharge groundwater supplies. Rainwater runs off these surfaces quickly, increasing the odds of flooding and erosion in heavy storms. Plus, as the rainwater flows across parking lots and roads, it collects pollutants, such as heavy metals and pesticides, and washes them into streams and ultimately the Bay.
Not only is an adequate supply of water essential to the Bay Areas inhabitants, it also undergirds the regions economy. If businesses perceive the regions water supplies are unstable, they may consider relocating.