It is widely agreed that a growing population and economy, combined with current drought conditions and increasing understanding of long-term climate variability, create an urgent need to develop new water supplies in the US. This is especially true in Texas and California, two states where I focus much of my attention. One type of project that always seems to be misunderstood and maligned, however, is interbasin water transfers.
The Fourth District Court of Appeal in California has released a decision regarding the procedural requirements of Proposition 218 as applied to water rates. The case is Morgan v. Imperial Irrigation District, Case Nos. D060146 and D061087, and while the decision is currently unpublished, it is likely that publication will be requested by one or more interested agencies in the near future.
This post gives an overview of the organization of water utilities in California. For this purpose, water utilities are defined as entities that own and operate public drinking water systems at the retail level. There are few sources of information about who provides water utility service in the state, and this post offers only an overview of the topic. The data used for the analysis in this post was derived from a proprietary database I have of all water utilities in California.
Yesterday, the California State Water Resources Control Board issued a Notice of Surface Water Shortage for 2013 addressed to all “Diverters of Surface Water and Interested Persons.” In it, the SWRCB reported on the record dry and warm conditions facing the state during the past two years. The SWRCB reminded water diverters that the California water rights system allocates water in order of chronological priority, and that water shortages could lead to restrictions on the exercise of some water rights in late summer and fall of 2013. The letter included a list of suggested actions for diverters whose water rights are curtailed, such as controlling conveyance losses, improving coordination with other local diverters, conserving water and using alternative water supplies.
Many people find the basic rules for collection and use of property taxes in California to be confusing. The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) has prepared a helpful report about state property taxes, including a series of easy-to-watch videos. It describes the amount of taxes collected, the types of properties covered, the distribution of property tax revenues, the basic rules of Proposition 13 and an economic analysis of California property taxes according to five criteria: growth, stability, simplicity, neutrality and equity. Overall, the LAO scored California property taxes well on the first three criteria, less well on the last two.