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Opinion: San Francisco To State On Water-Use Cutbacks: How Low Can We Go?

Do you think you could reduce your water use by 40 percent? What if we asked for even more than that? This is the type of rationing we can expect during a severe drought if a new proposal from the State Water Resources Control Board is implemented. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is the retail water provider for San Francisco and the water provider for 26 wholesale customers in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Alameda counties. Today, 85 percent of the water we deliver to our customers comes from the Tuolumne River.

OPINION: San Francisco’s Turn to Cut Back Water Use To Help Fish

The contentious struggle to restore threatened fisheries in the San Francisco Bay-Delta and the Central Valley has focused mostly on reducing the amount of water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to farms and Southern California cities. That’s now changed. The State Water Resources Control Board has asked San Francisco and other communities that withdraw water from rivers that feed into the delta from the south to be part of the solution. Declaring that “the Bay-Delta is in ecological crisis,” the state water board has proposed leaving 40 percent of the natural flow of these rivers untouched.

More Water In California Reservoirs, But Drought Persists

California’s major reservoirs are holding 69 percent more water than a year ago, the U.S. government announced Friday, but regulators warned that drought conditions continue to plague the state. In its annual inventory of water in storage, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said the six key reservoirs owned by the federal government’s Central Valley Project held a combined 4.9 million acre-feet of water as of Oct. 1, the beginning of the “water year” that runs through next September. That figure compared with 2.9 million acre-feet a year earlier.

BLOG: Meet the Minds: Kelly Twomey Sanders On Water In A Changing Climate

California’s drought has helped the public see what many researchers have known for a long time: Water and energy are deeply intertwined. Kelly Twomey Sanders has been exploring this energy-water nexus in depth. She joined the Sonny Astani Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California in 2014 after having completed her PhD at the University of Texas. Sanders is working to identify the technical, market and regulatory interventions that can help reduce water-related disruptions to energy services in the context of a changing climate.