El Niño: Federal officials warn Californians to prepare for onslaught

As reported by the San Jose Mercury News:

With El Niño bearing down, federal emergency officials on Wednesday issued their strongest warnings yet, urging Californians to prepare for the predicted onslaught of storms by taking immediate steps that could save lives and property.

“It is critical that citizens take the risk seriously,” said Bob Fenton of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who led an emergency response drill with regional agencies in Sacramento on Wednesday.

If this El Niño mimics the winters of 1982-83 and 1997-98, as expected, Bay Area counties face a trifecta of flood risk: seasonally high “king tides,” storm-induced surges near beaches, and rising rivers along flood plains, experts said. Already, sea levels are higher than normal, due to El Niño’s warm ocean temperatures. …

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Ratepayers Lose in Game of DWP Monopoly

DWPIt’s easy to say the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is bloated and inefficient, but it’s even easier to prove it.

All you have to do is read the “Benchmarking Analysis” produced in February by LADWP’s Corporate Performance Division with the help of two outside consultants, PA Consulting Group Inc. and PwC’s Strategy&.

The report on the first phase of the multiyear, three-part “benchmarking effort” recommended that LADWP conduct an “enterprise-wide examination of labor and benefit costs, including the administrative and general function.” The “ultimate goal,” the experts concluded, “will be to identify specific areas/process with the highest potential for improvement and/or cost savings.”

Translation: They are wasting so much money that it will be 2017 before they even figure out where to begin to address it. However, LADWP doesn’t intend to let this leisurely beard-tugging exercise delay its five-year rate increase, which could be approved in just a couple of weeks.

It’s an outrage.

The benchmarking study reveals that LADWP spends more money on payroll, measured by total payroll dollars per customer, than more than 75 percent of comparable utilities. LADWP also spends more on pension and health benefits than other utilities.

The report notes that wages in the L.A. metro area are 13 to 33 percent higher than wages paid by “peer utilities.” But a report in March from the California Policy Center found that “the average DWP employee receives compensation that is 155 percent greater than their non-DWP counterpart.”

The DWP also lagged its competitors in its debt ratio, having borrowed more money than comparable utilities. Is this a problem? Not for investors who buy the bonds and collect the interest payments. In August, Moody’s gave a positive rating to $300 million in LADWP power system revenue bonds, with an admiring nod to “LADWP’s strong flexibility as an unregulated monopoly providing an essential service to the city of Los Angeles.”

Translation: LADWP can always pay the bondholders by forcing its customers to pay more for water and electricity.

Bond ratings analysts at Moody’s, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s all lamented the slow and politically charged process for raising base rates, but they were cheered up by the presence of “cost adjustment mechanisms” that enable LADWP to quietly add extra charges to everybody’s bills. “About 50 percent of costs can be automatically passed through to customers without City Council action,” Moody’s explained to investors.

And that number could go higher. Fitch analysts said the new rate hike proposal “includes revenue stability features that would enhance the consistency of cost recovery.”

Translation: The “adjustment mechanisms” are about to be adjusted upward.

You can’t blame investors for wanting the money that was promised to them, but it’s fair to ask why LADWP has borrowed so much money – more than $23 billion over the last 30 years, according to data from the California state treasurer – while comparable utilities seem to be able to pay their bills more easily.

The problem could be that every year, LADWP transfers 8 percent of the power system’s gross revenue for the previous year to the L.A. city treasury. The city grabbed $247 million in 2013, $253 million in 2014, and $266 million in 2015. Standard & Poor’s projects that by 2020, the city transfer will be more than $320 million.

The annual transfer equals or exceeds the $270 million in annual revenue that would be raised by the five-year rate increase. Without the city transfer, the rate increase would not be needed.

Although L.A.’s city charter allows the transfer of surplus revenue, there is no surplus revenue, not while LADWP is raising rates and planning to borrow billions more. Is the city transfer even legal? Maybe not. Three lawsuits challenging it were recently consolidated into one case and set for trial.

Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council have the power to approve or block the DWP’s rate hikes, upcoming salary raises and transfers of “surplus” funds. At the very least, the city transfer should be halted until the legal challenge is resolved, and LADWP’s rates and salaries should be frozen until the “enterprise-wide examination of labor and benefit costs” is completed and made public.

It’s a disgrace that a publicly owned utility that is also an unregulated monopoly operates like a political slush fund. Feel free to call the mayor at 213-978-0600 and your City Council representative at 213-473-3231, and ask them what they plan to do about it.

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Susan Shelley is a columnist for the Los Angeles Daily News. Reach her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter, @Susan_Shelley.

Steeper Fines Proposed to Punish Water-Wasters

SprinklerCalifornia’s ongoing water crisis promised to extend the controversy over fines and regulations well into the next year — if not beyond. While some areas suffer, others flourish, and fines — in some instances aggressively applied — have been meted out unevenly.

Despite limiting water use, residents in lower-income areas have complained that they have faced substantial fines, while some of the Golden State’s most conspicuous consumers have escaped penalty. In Apple Valley, “where the median household income is below $50,000 a year,” some have struggled to keep their consumption below the limit, while one “home under construction in Bel Air has been issued permits for five pools,” the New York Times reported:

“Los Angeles officials hope to start imposing fines so steep that even the wealthy who populate Bel Air will notice. Elsewhere, though, fines have already piled up on middle-class Californians. The Central Valley city of Clovis, faced with an order to cut back 36 percent, has meted out more than 23,000 fines since the mandatory water reductions began in June. In Santa Cruz, where water supplies have run dangerously low, the city has assessed more than $1.6 million in penalties for using too much water.”

Mid-month, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a fresh order expanding and strengthening his strict water policies. “The order gives state water officials greater authority to deal with drought conditions and to cope with potential winter storms from El Nino, a periodic warming of ocean surface temperatures,” as Reuters reported, extending emergency conservation “through October if California still faces a drought in January. The order also extends the suspension of some environmental rules, lets some state residents capture more water and expedites rebuilding permits for power plants damaged by wildfires.”

Localities have braced for the new, unprecedented groundwater regulations as officials have been dispatched to implement and enforce them. “They are under orders to begin actively managing underground aquifers that for generations have been treated as a private resource, with property owners empowered to dig wells and extract as much water as they wanted without particular regard for their neighbors or government agencies,” the Sacramento Bee noted.

“But even amid the sobering accounts of dried-up wells, salt-tainted groundwater and collapsing aquifers in California farm country, no one expects regulation will be easy to set up or sell. Instead, the entire process — starting with just who gets to decide how much water can be ‘sustainably’ pumped in a region — is expected to spark lengthy debate and complicated lawsuits. This is particularly true in farm-rich regions such as Kings County, where the groundwater basins are critically overdrawn.”

Some farmers face the prospect of having to simply cease operations after a relatively brief period of time. “Land retirement is coming to California agriculture. The drought will end someday, maybe even this winter, but farmers will still face long-term shortages of water,” the Bee observed separately. “The relentless groundwater pumping that has kept hundreds of farms going the past four years is coming to an end.”

Meanwhile, other parts of the state have wound up with a large surplus of water, thanks to the uniformity of conservation regulations. “Unlike other parts of California, San Diego has 99 percent of the water needed for normal usage. But statewide conservation mandates have applied equally to areas that have plenty of water and those that don’t, so the result here has been water piling up unused while local water agencies raise rates to make up for lost sales,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “The new supply is just one more reason local water officials are advocating for the state to ease conservation mandates for areas where supplies are ample, which would lessen the oversupply.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Water: Get Used to Paying More While Using Less

Shower head water droughtCalifornians may need to get used to paying more for water, despite and because of their successful efforts at conservation, according to state water officials at a recent Assembly committee hearing.

Californians exceeded the state’s 25 percent water conservation mandate in October for the fourth month in a row. That might be good news for a parched state, but it’s also drying up the coffers of many water districts, some of which have raised rates to help make up the loss.

Ratepayers are in essence being punished for obeying the state order to conserve water – something they thought would save them money. That has officials like John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, scrambling to explain.

“In some places people see costs go up, and think they conserved and did a great job, and yet the fixed costs are the same. And it is very confusing,” Laird acknowledged at a Nov. 17 hearing by the Select Committee on Water Consumption and Alternative Resources.

“It flies in the face of the public’s general view that if you pay more you should get more, as opposed to you might have to pay more to get what you get now,” Laird continued. “As opposed to if the system collapses because there’s no investment you might have to pay more to get a lot less. And that is a very hard concept to explain to the rate-paying public in a way that they get it.”

Water and Power Departments’ Budgetary Woes

Los Angelenos have reduced water use by 18 percent, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which has resulted in a $110.7 million hit to the agency’s budget. LADWP is now proposing a $57.6 million rate hike to recoup a little over half of its losses.

Other districts that have passed or are considering conservation-related rate hikes include the Contra Costa Water District, the East Bay Municipal Utility District and the San Diego Public Utilities Department, according to Reuters.

“It doesn’t seem intuitive that I’m using less water, but I’m paying more,” said Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D- Menlo Park, who chairs the committee. “How do you explain that to the public?”

Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources responded, “I would agree that getting this message across that we’re going to expect ratepayers, and taxpayers for that matter, to pay more to hopefully not lose more than they would have otherwise, it’s a tough message,”

He cited the proposed $15 billion Delta pipelines project, known as the California WaterFix, which is expected to be funded largely through rate hikes.

“Why would we expect water users in southern California, the Bay Area and the Central Valley to pay more to get the same amount of supply they are now?” said Cowin. “Well, we have to make the case that sustainability is worth the price we are asking people to pay for.”

Climate change can actually help state officials make that case to the public, he said.

Messaging to the Public

“I think we have as good an opportunity now as we ever have,” Cowin said. “We’re in this unique opportunity right now where we’re messaging to the public: keep conserving water because we might have a fifth year of drought, plus prepare for a potential Godzilla El Nino flood event. That really is what we are looking at as the new normal for California extremes.”

Cowin continued, “So we have got to be able to message better that global climate change leads to these extremes, [which] means that the typical inexpensive sources of water are a thing of the past. And more expensive options are a part of the future.

“We’ve been lucky for decades or generations that we’ve had relatively inexpensive water throughout California, some more expensive than others. But, moving forward, water is going to be more expensive and we’re going to have to pay for it.”

Increasing Water Use Efficiency

One way to keep costs down is to use water more efficiently. Currently, much of California’s treated wastewater ends up dumped in rivers and streams. California should follow Israel’s model and instead spread that treated effluent on farms and orchards, said Eilon Adar, a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, via Skype.

“Water is still being used in non-responsible ways,” he said. “You waste water. Cities in the Bay Area, they produce a lot of effluence that cannot be used in the Bay Area. However, if diverted about 150 miles to the south there are places in California that can appreciate this water.”

The state definitely can do more with recycled wastewater, said Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute. Only about 13 percent of California’s wastewater – 600,000 acre-feet – is currently recycled. He believes the state will meet its targets of annually producing 1 million acre-feet of recycled wastewater by 2020 and 2 million acre-feet by 2030.

“That’s an enormous amount of water,” Gleick said. “That’s water that we already have, that we already capture and treat and throw away into the ocean. Let’s put that to use.”

Gleick said he’s also concerned about “massive over-pumping of the groundwater. There’s been this long-term inexorable drop in groundwater. Groundwater is a resource, but we’re over-tapping it. And that’s unsustainable, and we know that that’s a problem.”

He continued, “There’s been enormous progress in capturing water use efficiently and developing local supplies. We are, however, still living beyond our means. We are taking too much water from our rivers and streams and especially in our aquifers. Even in wet years we over-pump our aquifers. That is unsustainable.”

FarmOn the plus side, nearly doubling the amount of groundwater pumping has helped the state’s $54 billion agricultural industry weather the drought, according to Jay Lund, director of theCenter for Watershed Science at UC Davis. About 70 percent of the lost surface water was made up by groundwater.

As a result, despite four years of drought, state agriculture has lost only about 4 percent in net revenue and about 10,000 jobs, he said.

“It’s amazing to have this drought with this relatively small effect,” Lund said. “We will always have drought in California. It’s like the East Coast having hurricanes.”

He agreed with Cowin that weather extremes like drought have the benefit of reminding the public about the state’s ongoing water needs.

“Droughts bring attention to where water management is not keeping pace,” said Lund. A Dutch engineer told him “in the Netherlands they need to have a threatening flood every generation to remind them that they have water problems. California is a dry place susceptible to floods. It’s useful for us … to see droughts and floods from time to time.”

The committee plans to hold a hearing in December in Los Angeles on desalination and one in January in Sacramento on recycling and reclamation issues.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Feinstein continues to block necessary water project

cadiz water projectThe Democrats are at it again. They’re pushing back on the Republican controlled Congress, who is attempting to limit earmarks from being added to the omnibus spending bill. This action – known as policy riders – explains specifically what funding cannot be used on.

While Democrats relied on policy riders extensively in the past, especially in the area of “environmental protection,” having a Republican-controlled Congress has left the Democrats squalling at the practice. If the Republicans are going to undermine the Democratic agenda by implementing their own policy riders, the Democrats are completely against the practice all together, even though they have fought this fight for the last 15 years by using policy riders to protect the EPA.

These policy riders have had an absolutely detrimental impact on California, especially during the severe drought. Senator Feinstein has abused her position on the Appropriates Committee to make sure an important water project in Southern California, known as the Cadiz Valley Water Project, would fail to be built.

The Cadiz Valley Water Project is a no brainer for drought-stricken California.

According to the Environmental Impact Report, a requirement under California’s Environmental Quality Act of 1970, around 400,000 people could benefit from the project, which would provide over 16 million gallons of drinking water.

The Cadiz property is located in the Mohave Desert, between the I-10 and I-40 freeways. The plan calls for the construction of a 43-mile pipeline, which would supply water to the Colorado River Aqueduct from the Cadiz property.

When Cadiz attempted to start the project in the early 2000s with their original partner, Metropolitan Water District, Feinstein used policy riders in the fiscal year 2007 spending bill that blocked Cadiz from receiving any funding.

Senator Feinstein, however, has utilized policy riders in the annual federal spending bill in order to force the federal government to interfere with railroad property rights, which directly impacts Cadiz’s partner, the Arizona & California Railroad. She did this to block the Cadiz Valley Water Project’s funding for federal review, should one be required.

This is the definition of government overreach and politics as usual. Seemingly frustrated that the project’s review doesn’t include Washington bureaucrats, Feinstein has tried to sabotage a project that could provide Southern California with a new water supply. And at what cost?

Feinstein went out of her way to target Cadiz and their ultimate goal of supplying Southern California with water. She can’t attempt to argue against her blatant sabotage.

With California in desperate need of water to sustain our way of life – and no, I’m not talking about the fish – this project should have been pushed forward years ago. If it had been, we would have the added benefit to help battle the current drought.

Gov. Brown’s Delta tunnel plan draws outrage

Delta TunnelsTo his cherished high-speed rail project, Gov. Jerry Brown can now add his ambitious Delta tunnel project to the list of big plans arousing strong opposition.

Especially in the Delta region itself, public opinion has turned sharply against the scheme, which would cost over $15 billion dollars and reshape the area with massive infrastructure construction. “In recent weeks, opponents protested at the state Capitol and submitted volumes of critical comments to state and federal officials on the environmental impact of the plan,” the Sacramento Bee reported. “A wealthy Stockton-area farmer and food processor, Dean Cortopassi, qualified for the November 2016 ballot a measure that could complicate the project, if not stop it altogether.”

On the other hand, according to the Bee, the upheaval “didn’t appear to tilt controversy surrounding the project beyond its traditional bearings. Delta landowners, Northern Californians and many environmentalists have for years opposed a conveyance, while labor unions and building trades groups that stand to benefit from a project support it.”

But over the course of a public comment period on the proposal, Brown’s plan was subjected to withering criticism from a vocal minority of Californians. “By midday Friday, 2,340 unique letters had been submitted, along with 6,665 form letters and 19,047 letters that were the result of online petitions, a spokeswoman with the California Natural Resources Agency said. That’s in addition to about 2,000 unique letters and 10,000 form letters received last year in response to an earlier version of the tunnels plan,” Recordnet reported.

Big blowback

One such comment came from Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., who called the tunnel project a “multi-billion boondoggle,”according to the Appeal Democrat. “If we allow the Delta to be drained by a massive new plumbing system, it will put at risk many Delta jobs and forever change the Delta’s culture and quality of life,” he wrote.

Garamendi’s constituents have largely agreed. “The project to divert some Sacramento River water before it reaches the estuary is controversial, particularly in San Joaquin County and the rest of the Delta,” as Recordnet observed. “Opponents have relentlessly attacked the project from multiple fronts — questioning its economics, warning about its environmental impacts, and predicting hard times ahead for Delta farmers.”

But Brown has stuck to his guns, blasting the negative comments and vowing that the project would make a decisive and urgently needed difference in California’s distribution and consumption of water. “The delta pipeline is essential to […] protecting fish and water quality. Without this fix, San Joaquin farms, Silicon Valley and other vital centers of the California economy will suffer devastating losses in their water supply,” he said in a prepared statement. “Claims to the contrary are false, shameful and do a profound disservice to California’s future.”

Debating democracy

Instead of dissipating the tension, however, Brown’s words have only added to it, helping ensure that the issue will come to a head at the ballot box, when voters weigh in on Cortopassi’s initiative. He and his wife, the Bee noted, “have bankrolled the No Blank Checks Initiative ballot effort, pumping $4 million into the petition drive, consultants and other expenses since March.”

“Under his proposed ballot measure, any revenue bonds for public works involving the state would have to go to a public vote. That would complicate Brown’s planned strategy to pay for the twin tunnels, which rests on water users financing bonds to help fund the $15 billion project.”

As George Skelton suggested at the Los Angeles Times, some skepticism toward the initiative has centered around the potential problems inherent in turning over the fate of all similar large-scale projects to the whims of voters. “But the tunnel project was purposely set up to avoid the electorate. Politicians and their appointees are making all the decisions,” he noted.

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

McCarthy: Use high-speed rail funds to quench California’s drought

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a persistent critic of California’s high-speed rail program, said that the funds for the project should be diverted to quench the state’s severe drought.

The California Republican made the proposal Wednesday after the Los Angeles Times reported that the system’s contractor pegged the cost of building the initial segment at 31 percent above the original estimate, but the California High Speed Rail Authority did not use that figure in its 2014 business plan.

The authority took issue with the newspaper’s report, saying that some costs in the $68 billion project have actually come down as bids have gone out.

That didn’t stop McCarthy from pitching a proposal that isn’t likely to happen.

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New Water-Saving Technique: Public Shaming

Shower head water droughtAfter a wave of new rules, regulations and crackdowns, many water-conserving Californians have evaded formal and informal punishment. With no end in sight, however, others have begun to face both forms of penalties.

The mood of the public and officials alike has tilted hard against outsized consumers. Although “water providers such as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have refused to divulge the names of California’s top residential water users,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “the DWP is now considering changes to its water conservation ordinance that would impose ‘substantial’ fines for excessive use and make the names public.”

Pressed by “public outrage, and questioning by Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz,” the Times noted, DWP would follow in the East Bay’s footsteps, where agency overusers recently confronted “an excessive-use penalty ordinance that allows it to fine and name water customers who consume more than four times the average household.”

From nagging to snitching

In the Bay Area, a culture of water shaming has developed from the ground up. In a report on “the domestic water police,” the New York Times recently identified “moms and dads, spouses and partners, children, even co-workers and neighbors” as among the residents “quick to wag a finger when they spot people squandering moisture, such as a faucet left running while they’re brushing their teeth, or using too much water to clean dinner plates in the sink. And showers? No lingering allowed.”

More nagging has gone hand in hand with more snitching. The Times reported that “state water agencies issued more than 70,000 warnings for overuse and more than 20,000 penalties” this June and July, with many issued when “someone’s neighbor ratted on them,” according to State Water Resources Control Board climate and conservation manager Max Gomberg.

Although those penalties landed on a relatively small group of die-hard squanderers, the state has now leveled substantial fines on whole cities that failed to meet conservation targets. “While most communities continue to hit mandated conservation targets, a few have consistently missed,” the Sacramento Bee noted. “All four were in Southern California: Beverly Hills, Indio, Redlands and Coachella Valley Water District. Each was fined $61,000.”

These sums could be only the beginning. “The penalties are based on the board’s authority to issue fines of $500 per day for violations of its emergency regulation,” according to the Press-Enterprise. “The board could also issue the providers a cease and desist order, which carries a fine up to $10,000 per day for non-compliance.”

A vicious circle

water meter 2The crackdown has come as agencies have hiked rates for users who do conserve. “Water providers in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of the state have recently told customers that rates will go up at least temporarily, as utilities struggle to pay for building and repairing pipes, buying water and other costs, even as customers cut back,” according to Reuters. Agencies have sometimes wound up a victim of their own success. “In Los Angeles, conservation led to a $111 million drop in revenues during the fiscal year that ended July 1, a period mostly before the mandatory cutbacks kicked into high gear, Department of Water and Power budget director Neil Guglielmo said Friday.”

But for now, regulators have tried to emphasize the positive. “Californians slashed their water use 26 percent in September, meeting Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of 25 percent for the fourth straight month,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing recently released state data. Though encouraged by the numbers, water agencies have strained to strike a messaging balance between threats and warnings on the one hand and encouragement and pride on the other, hoping to give savers a sense of reward without subtly encouraging a return to laxity. Utilities, noted the Chronicle, remained dedicated to “trying to keep the conservation message front and center after four dry years, especially as residents may be tempted to become less diligent with forecasts calling for a wetter-than-average winter.”

Originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Is CA ready for El Niño.

CA RainThe anticipation is building. Stories and news reports are popping up everywhere. Predictions and expectations fill coffee shops and social media. No, I’m not talking about the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles. I am talking about El Niño. And, chances are that it will arrive this winter along with plenty of precipitation.

The winter months in California provide us with the rain and snow to support our way life for the whole year. As the eighth largest economy in the world, the most productive agricultural region in the country, and home to the technological revolution and millions of middle class families looking to live a free and prosperous life, California needs a secure and abundant water supply.

Unfortunately, four years of historic drought and decades of mismanaged water policy have threatened our water supply so much that communities are forced to ration usage. Some even have to rely on donated water because their supplies have been completely depleted. And beyond the humanitarian and economic hardship this drought has caused, our environment has also been impacted. Today, our soil is dry and our forests are thinned by the twin problems of fire and drought.

So it isn’t a surprise that predictions of El Niño were initially met with the hope that our drought might finally subside.

And with good reason.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts the current El Niño in the Pacific Ocean has a 95 percent chance of continuing through the 2015–2016 winter. NOAA goes on to state that this could be a strong El Niño, bringing heavy and much-need precipitation to our parched state in northern, central, and southern California.

Originally published at Medium. To read the rest of the article go here.

Majority Leader, United States Congress

California Residents Face Bigger Energy Bills For Using Less

Southern California residents who sacrificed by using less water are now suffering higher prices because the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has a $111 million shortfall in its latest revenue projections.

“We have no other way of recovering the revenue to maintain the system for our customers,” Neil Guglielmo, director of budget, rates and financial planning for the DWP, said Wednesday. The Board of Water and Power Commissioners approved a pass-through charge that will be applied to consumers beginning in 2016, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles is not alone, however, as agencies throughout California have faced revenue shortfalls from the drought. Some regions in California have instituted a “drought surcharge” while others will simply double their service surcharge, reports The Los Angeles Times.

In L.A.’s case, the DWP’s long-term plan includes instituting an incremental five year rate hike that would increase the average user’s utility bill by roughly 3.4 percent each year. Residents are not thrilled with the action however, according to The Los Angeles Times, with one twitter user saying, “LADWP hikes rates because they aren’t making enough revenue. We’re saving water like we’re supposed to, U mad? I am.”

The paradox of less water use meaning higher costs is just one symptom of the drought that continues to plague California. Resident are hopeful however that the strongest El Nino in decades could bring much needed rain relief, reports Bloomberg. Alan Haynes, service coordination hydrologist at the California Nevada River Forecast Center in Sacramento noted however that, “If the wettest year were to occur, we still wouldn’t erase the deficit we have seen in the last four years.”

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Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation