Tuesday, December 08, 2015

I the 2015 election cycle, California Greens ran in 13 local races, winning 10.  That is a good record.  I am, however, surprised that we have not done more in this regard. This level of results indicates that we should.  All of the energy seems to be involved in the focus on the 2016 presidential race, a fact that seems to be driven by the big money that sponsors the outreach efforts of the candidates and the incessant campaign coverage from those oh so savvy pundits on the tube.

This seems antithetical to Green ideals that value, at least is words, grassroots democracy, decentralization and community based economics.  You would think that Greens would be making the effort to do more at the local level.  These are the offices that can literally change our lives and provide the name recognition to gain higher office.

In California, no event will dominate 2016 like a highly probable strong El Niño. This is all the more important as it follows a 4 year severe drought that has had far reaching effects on local government.   In Morgan Hill, two entities control how we get our water and at what cost.  They are the Santa Clara Valley Water District (wholesaler)  and the City Council of Morgan Hill, the retailer.  I use the business terms because both organizations are in the business of delivering water for our use

During the drought, we were asked to use less water, saving what little we had until the rains came again.  As a result, neither the Water District nor the City had as much revenue as they had projected.  Their solution is to charge more for each unit of water.  Since we use less, they need a higher rater to cover the costs that are mostly fixed, not subject to variation with volume.  In his recent book, Water 4.0, David Sedlak traces the history of water systems from ancient days to now and arrives at the conclusion that we can no longer manage this most precious of resources through large scale systems.

In Sedlak's view, Water 4.0 will have to provide for distributed management of water.  That is a bit of what we are doing.  We now have a collection process for rooftop water and use that to make sure our garden and fruit trees are adequately watered as long as we can.  In the past year, we managed to lower our consumption of city supplied water by over 30%.  In a review of Water 4.0 published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Kate Galbraith concludes  with a quote from Sedlak. "If they want to realize the full benefits of conservation, water utilities will have to accept the idea that they are no longer in the business of selling water," he writes. "Rather, they are stewards of a limited resource."

 Both the City Council and the Water District Board are elected offices.  This is where Greens should be focusing energy and effort.   If we can get this right, we might end up with Water 4.0 and a path to higher office because we proved that we can be trusted to govern.