This commentary was published in the Sacramento Bee on June 8, 2017.
The recent drought brought record high temperatures and record low precipitation, pushed numerous native fish species to the brink of extinction and led to unusually large drops in groundwater levels. But the biggest milestone for urban areas was the state’s unprecedented order to cut water use by an average of 25 percent. This mandate was a blunt instrument. It didn’t reflect how well prepared most urban suppliers were, or their willingness to further reduce water use when needed.