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EDITORIAL: Water woes to stay

The water situation is getting serious, especially for Laguna Beach, a city which relies entirely on imported water.

The Metropolitan Water District has told the local water agencies that it will reduce water allotments by 9% next year — and if the agencies want to purchase more than that, the price will more than double.

The Laguna Beach County Water District is warning consumers that the extra cost will be passed on, and putting Lagunans on notice that water is no longer to be taken for granted.

If water supplies continue to dry up, draconian measures are in the offing: up to and including cutting off water supplies for some users. This may not be legal, but it shows the lengths to which those who control the taps feel they must go to keep the water flowing.

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Water is the basis for life on this planet and it is incomprehensible that it has become a scarce commodity. But there it is.

The growth of California’s population, development and agricultural uses have strained this resource to the breaking point. Add in drought over the past two decades and efforts over the years to give water back to areas that have been depleted, such as the Owens River Valley and Colorado River, and to ensure that endangered fish and wildlife have their share, and you have the perfect storm for possible future rationing.

This occurred in the late 1980s during a record drought, when restaurants could not provide water to customers except by request, and hosing your driveway became a citable offense.

The three-minute shower became a point of pride, and the low-flow toilet became all but mandatory.

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That earlier spate of dry weather may have been a global warming warning, because there haven’t been too many years of “normal” rainfall ever since.

With the Sierra snowpack seeming to dwindle every year, water agencies are moving forward with desalination projects to use the abundant Pacific Ocean waters.

But a local desal plant is still years away, and a proposed reclamation project using sewer water — “toilet to tap” — has yet to become palatable to consumers.

Water woes are here to stay and we’d all better get used to using less of it.



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