Here’s the right strategy for California’s next drought

But the biggest milestone for urban areas was the state’s unprecedented order to cut water use by an average of 25 percent.
And the urban economy still grew faster than the national average.
It didn’t reflect how well prepared most urban suppliers were, or their willingness to further reduce water use when needed.
They point to a strategy to better manage water, and not just during droughts.
Second, becoming resilient to drought requires developing water reserves and managing short-term demands.
Cities invested vast sums on supply and storage since the last major drought, but the state mandate focused exclusively on demand, essentially ignoring local supplies.
Managers said that uncertainty about future state policy could discourage such investments, funded mostly by local ratepayers.
To improve response to future droughts, a “trust but verify” policy can be more effective than the “better safe than sorry” approach of the state conservation mandate.
A good model is the “stress test” the state adopted toward the end of the drought, which allowed local utilities to drop conservation mandates if they could demonstrate they had three years of drought-resilient supplies.
The state should also make permanent its requirement that suppliers report their water use each month.

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