Hi Reddit!

I did AMAs in November and July last year, but water crises are back in the news. That's because "Nature makes a drought, but man makes a shortage."

I'm here to answer any and all questions related to the political economy of water, i.e., who gets water and how do we put it to "highest and best use."

Here's my proof with a few important points, i.e., urban vs agricultural use, good management helps the poor, etc.

NB: I've traveled in 90+ countries and follow water issues everywhere, so AMA related to your local situation, and I'll try to give a useful response.

I'm a professor of economics at Leiden University College in Den Haag (Netherlands).

I did my PhD at UC Davis.

Links of interest:

Political Economy 101: Corruption only works when politicians take bribes b/c THEY have the monopoly power. An honest politician or bureaucrat can hold off an army of corrupt businessmen (but not their boss!)


  • af (acre-foot). 325,800 gallons of water = 1,234 m3
  • Ag(ricuture)
  • g/w: groundwater
  • LADWP = Los Angeles Dept of Water and Power

EDIT (16:37 UTC): Ok, there are now too many comments for me to follow ALL the new threads (and I'll drop off old ones), so please VOTE UP comments you want me to answer. New commenters: PLEASE ctrl+F first, to see if someone asked, e.g., about desalination!

EDIT (17:18 UTC): Going for a swim and dinner. I'll be back. VOTE UP GOOD QUESTIONS!

Water and vegetarianism. I was a veggie for 15 years. I know the stories. It's not really a solution compared to managing water as a scarce good. Then some people would eat no meat or less meat. Meat is not the problem (in terms of water) compared to mismanagement.

EDIT (20:20 UTC): Going to hang out with my GF. I will answer 5-10 TOP-VOTED, UNANSWERED comments tmrw (in 10-12 hrs).

Thanks for all the great questions.

My agent insists I add a link so folks can hire me. Academics and journalists are free, of course.

Don't forget to read my book. It's short, free and explains everything!

ps: Here's a "Water Primer" that explains many dimensions of California's water management

Comments: 2739 • Responses: 95  • Date: 

270-1255 karma

Why does everybody in CA politics go on about people having to preserve water personally when only about 6% of the water in California is used for personal consumption?

Most of it seems to be used for growing fringe non-essential agricultural products like alfalfa and almonds.

davidzet2481 karma

"It's something you can do while we get more campaign donations from farmers"

ProfessorPaulKrugman199 karma

The truth in 13 words. Well said. Don't any other Californians wonder why the rice farmers constantly have those commercials explaining that they aren't a water intensive crop and that they provide habitats for birds!?

davidzet332 karma

Rice is not actually a problem when it's grown off of flood flows...

pandabearak574 karma

Thanks for doing this. If you were emperor of California and you could implement any three projects related to water, what would they be and which would be given priority? Why?

davidzet1023 karma

(1) Intertie distribution systems and allow water markets to allocate bulk water, BUT

(2) Cut off long-distance water transfers. It's time to live within your means and restore ecosystems that provide HUGE benefits.

(3) Bring urban systems into full performance such that treated wastewater (and stormwater) could be recycled into human use. How to pay?

pandabearak377 karma

Um... ok... can I get an ELI5 on this anyone?

davidzet1187 karma

(1) Allow people to share water (or sell it)

(2) Use your water, not your neighbors

(3) Don't break your toys; if you do, fix them so you can use them.

lukotheboss35 karma

I live in Southern California. Option #2 would force millions of people out of town, assuming it would be enforced today. If dasalination plants provided the majority of the water then I'd be for this, but that is at least 30 years away.

Pumping water back into the water table is an option, but that water takes at least 10 years to be drinkable again. They are already doing this in some areas in Orange County.

I agree that California needs some new ideas for water, but for now there isn't much that can be done other than conserving what we can.

davidzet106 karma

Not really. >50% of urban SoCal water sis used on lawns.

People can stay


Can you elaborate on "or sell it"?

What would then stop corporations from buying insanely large bodies of water and holding it for sale so people are required to buy it.

davidzet19 karma

Not useful to buy it unless can use or sell it.

COMPETITION is the key.

(Also laws)

Loodlelee377 karma

I heard some houses don't even have meters in California. I think Sacramento area? Is that true?

davidzet615 karma

True. Water was "too cheap to meter" in the past.

Meters are, AFAIK, only 70-80 years old. In the past (and now in places), water was a "civic service" paid by property taxes, rather than a utility service with user fees. Different philosophy.

jeanduluoz68 karma

yeah, I've done a lot of work on water meters. Sensus is leading the charge on AMI-capable reporting, which provides much more granular data on water usage, which leads to much better population analysis, dynamic pricing, leak detection, and a host of other things.

Ironically, California is one of the few states (along with washington or oregon, can never keep them straight) that actually doesn't require cities to meter water - they can also charge a fixed fee, which obviously leads to the tragedy of the commons scenario.

If you have any questions about water meters for residential or commercial use and how they affect water policy, I'm probably your man (at least in this thread)

Fuck_shadow_bans7 karma

Why doesn't California start charging farmers market rates for their water. Is it just because of political power or is there another reason?

davidzet10 karma

It's not the State's place. Markets would "charge market rates" by revealing the value of water used to farmers...

Cavelcade3 karma

Out of curiosity, which ideology do you favour?

davidzet17 karma

Service as right in POOR countries. Pay for use (with income subsidies to poor) in richer countries.

eftresq298 karma

I heard animal husbandry is the top user of water in the California and Texas. Fact or fiction? If fiction were in the hierarchy does it fall?

davidzet326 karma

True, given alfalfa.

It's really burgers and ice cream...

Clsjajll282 karma

I'm visiting California and the topic of water naturally came up at breakfast. I told my friend I'd read municipal golf courses can use as much water as small cities. My friend said that isn't true because golf courses recycle 99% of their water. Uh, evaporation....He waved it off and repeated his idea. Are golf courses automatically given special privileges?

davidzet472 karma

They use recycled water, which evaporates. They do get a lot of slack, due to $ raised. Golf vs farmers

yota-runner195 karma

So the golf industry uses 1% of the water and creates $7B in GDP, and agriculture uses 75% of the water for $32B in GDP. From an economic standpoint we could say farms should use less water, but is this really practical? Farms feed (almost) everyone and are a necessity where as golf is a luxury. Is there anything farms could do that would use less water but not affect the crop yields?

ProfessorPaulKrugman237 karma

It is obvious we need to replace all farms with golf courses. Instant budget surplus!

davidzet142 karma

Thanks for the stimulus Paul!

Herlock73 karma

Not OP, and not specialist on the topic, but I remember reading about tests in my country (france) where they would use aerial (satellite / infrared) views from a field to detect the hot spots that need watering.

They would then water the areas that actually truely need it, instead of drowning the whole place with the same amount of water everywhere.

It seems it saved a lot of water (cause obviously they tend to wate too much all the time), but also increased production due to some areas not being uselessly flooded with too much water 90% of the time.

davidzet72 karma

yes this happens on many farms now WHEN water is expensive

hank63254 karma

In 1991 the Governor of Alaska proposed to build a water pipeline from Alaska all the way to Southern California but nothing ever came out of it.

Would that actually work out or is it just too crazy of an idea?

davidzet679 karma

Too expensive. It's MUCH cheaper to desalinate the Pacific and THAT'S crazy expensive.

warox13158 karma

I heard an NPR report that they're building (or maybe opening) a big desalination plant in San Diego that's supposed to produce 4% of the water they use yearly. That's pretty cool, but it's also the biggest desalination plant in America, so that is not as cool.

davidzet270 karma

I saw 6%.

Not a solution.

homes315575 karma

Technically, it is a solution.

davidzet148 karma

Ok, 6% of a solution?

papajohn5632 karma

What about nuclear power plants serving as desalination?

davidzet51 karma

Nuke desal sounds ok butit's damned expensive vs not wasting what you've got.

Mazzystr178 karma

How come all we hear about is how the people must make consumption sacrifices but businesses like Nestle are allowed to continue with their extraction and bottling operations? Is there anything being done to make those operations more transparent and manageable? Also does CA have a natural gas fracking industry that also consumes an unknown quantity of water?

davidzet189 karma

Both businesses should be monitored for use. Nestle (see link @ top) is probably charged for water. Many utilities use business revenues to subsidize houses, so they don't like their use ($) to fall. Also remember that bottled water is <0.5%

Fracking is far more worrying, due to g/w depletion and possible contamination.

homeschooled44 karma

From what I understand, Nestle is using expired permits and their consumption is not tracked by the government (as requests for this information have gone unanswered). Is there anything we can do as citizens to fix this? Who should we write to?

davidzet84 karma

well that's a much worse problem.

Go get the gov to do its bloody job.

psycoa163 karma

Hello-Does the CA water board recognize you/your work? After watching the Ca Boards meeting yesterday, live, I saw a few presentations that showed frustration at the boards lack of progress. Is the politics and the bureaucracy the real culprit on progress?

davidzet245 karma

Yes. They may say their hands are tied by procedure, etc. (see this), but there's also a constituency for business as usual.

It's time to bang heads, like they did in the 80-90s in Australia

tmt53115 karma

Super excited to see this thread, as I'm working on a Masters thesis on water issues (from more of a sociological perspective). I'm trying to research socioeconomic disparities and having access to water/high water quality (through municipalities/water treatment facilities) in the midwest. My project focuses on a specific geological area, mostly considering surface water as it goes through the water treatment cycle (I've read EPA reports, etc.).

Even though my summary (above) was kind of general, do you have any suggestions (methodological or otherwise) on how to proceed in examining how water is distributed to areas of socioeconomic hardship and/or how it's different from more affluent areas?

davidzet138 karma

Great topic.

Look at breaks/leaks in different neighborhoods.

Water quality reports at the TAP

Blood contamination tests

Email me progress!

PTWbrian114 karma

Hi Dave. There have been a zillion articles and tweets lately claiming that farmers "need to pay the true cost of water." Exempting the federal subsidies for Reclamation projects, which are substantial, I don't see how they aren't. If I dug a ditch in 1867 for $10,000, and it fills up in the spring, haven't I paid the marginal cost of acquiring X volume of water? How can I be expected to pay more for it, and who would I pay it to?

*Edited for clarity

davidzet98 karma

Good question. (1) There are subsidies on many projects in many countries. Read Cadillac Desert for the US. (2) There are "opportunity cost" subsidies in terms of water that they get but others would pay more for OR water we'd like to have in the future. (1) is easy to measure, (2) much harder without markets.

PTWbrian29 karma

I see what you mean, but if we each own a furniture business, and I can acquire timber more easily than you can, but you hand-make expensive furniture and I make cheap crap, surely we wouldn't say my business receives an opportunity cost subsidy, right? We would simply say I enjoy lower marginal costs.

davidzet56 karma

Yes, but we're both facing "market" supply sources...

leftwinglovechild32 karma

Let's be clear here, this is not a matter of merely digging a ditch, these farmers are pumping millions of gallons of water out of the aquifers that are a water source for entire regions. Irresponsible pumping has led to entire water sources being depleted and towns being left without any water at all.

davidzet10 karma

well, the analogy is wrong. I agree with you.

ziggykareem100 karma

what do you think is the likelihood of a war between nations over water resources and if like, how far away from it are we?

davidzet221 karma

It's possible (see Chp 9 in my book), but even more dumb than wars over land.

But don't underestimate political stupidity.

rattlebat88 karma

In Australia we've had major water problems since about 2004. Now that the drought has eased it seems like water security isn't being discussed anymore. What can we do while things are good to save for the future (is long-term water storage even viable?). Also, there was a lot of talk about desalination, is that an environmentally sound long-term solution?

davidzet124 karma

You guys are already installed for desal.

Restore your environment and aquifers; flush salts from land. Drought will return and it's better to be "in shape"

avapoet84 karma

What are the biggest lifestyle changes individuals can make to help combat shortages of fresh water?

davidzet152 karma

No watering outdoors

yy63301340 karma

What about eating less beef and dairy? I'd argue, as a whole, driving down demand for domestic beef and dairy and shrinking herds would have a greater impact than watering my lawn once a week.

davidzet70 karma

I'd prefer that you eat beef and get water managers to change policies...


What, in your opinion (unless there are facts to back it up with), is the biggest culprit/beneficiary of the outdoors watering?

davidzet104 karma

Developers, real estate agents and gardeners

mizary176 karma

What does it cost to move water in a pipeline - like the keystone xl deal? vs the cost of desalinating water? Or what other wacky options are out there?

davidzet138 karma

Desalinated water costs about $1,000/acre foot (US measure; roughly $1/m3) which means a barrel (42 gal) costs about $0.13. Oil is worth about $40/bbl, so it's WORTH shipping by pipeline.

Trinition41 karma

I heard a proposal once for transcontinental waterways linking major rivers. It would allow flooded rivers a way to divert extra water, and for drought stricken areas to siphon water when needed.

I imagine there's great ecological challenges but that usually doesn't stop mankind.

davidzet134 karma

India is debating a version of this; China's building the S-N water system. Both are (1) enviro disasters and (2) no cure for poor management.

unclemilty42071 karma

What is the state of current research surrounding desalination? You mentioned in this thread already that it's crazy expensive, but is anyone working to make it more economically viable?

davidzet117 karma

Yes. It's cost competitive on small islands (vs shipping water) and good for national security (Israel and Singapore).

Read the desal links above.

tmtreat65 karma

If California were a blank slate in terms of water law, what legal framework would you suggest to allow for the most economically efficient use/distribution of finite water resources?

davidzet81 karma

I'd follow the Aussie example with LIMITED licenses for surface and groundwater, so that demand was "capped" and trade could occur (not strictly necessary for, e.g, local g/w). Cali has a mix of prior appropriation, riparian and g/w rights that conflict.

boatmover30 karma

So I'm a resident. This sounds like a good idea, and we have this mostly stupid system of ballot propositions. Could the voters fix this damn thing in 2016? Who would be against it, besides farmers with senior rights?

davidzet61 karma

Void all rights, reform rights for issue. Auction them. Pay off prior owners of rights. My idea

Mongoosen4258 karma

I've hear a lot of people recently talking about almonds and the amount of water that they use, but I feel like not a lot of coverage about the high demand that animal agriculture puts on the water supply. I've been told that it takes something like 400 gallons of water to produce a pound of almonds (which certainly sounds ridiculous) but 2000 gallons to produce a pound of beef. Yet the New York Times the other day did a piece and didn't even mention beef.

Am I missing something? Is everyone else missing something? What are your thoughts on this?

davidzet33 karma

Almonds are in California so symbolic.

ctrl+F vegetarian

MakeMeNaked48 karma

When it rains in SoCal, I see all the dry river beds, Santa Ana River etc. flowing and think we should be pumping that into holding areas etc. Is there any chance of that happening instead of letting it flow out to sea?

davidzet108 karma

Yes! There's a BIG project in LA to remove concrete and allow water to infiltrate.

Lofabred41 karma

On a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being not a serious problem, 10 being the next dust bowl and you should consider moving now, how bad is the situation in CA?

davidzet55 karma

CA is a 6 on water, 3 on other things (to me)

jeemchan35 karma

Singapore uses reverse osmosis to recycle our waste water into drinkable water. In other words, we drink and shower from our poop and urine water. When will other countries start doing the same and being self sufficient?

davidzet75 karma

When they get serious. I admire Singapore's system, but it is (1) a city state and (2) humid enough.

The problems are biggest where governance is complex and "old" systems were based on abundant water. Watch Saudi Arabia for the trainwreck/change of direction.

youremomsoriginal18 karma

I'm working on studying the Saudi Water-Energy nexus and can only imagine what horrors the future might bring.

How would you recommend the Saudi government change its policies to avoid disaster?

davidzet30 karma

Change "internal prices" to "world prices" for energy. Bam! Efficiency

johnnybigoode30 karma

I'm from Brazil.

How worried should I be?

davidzet49 karma

Not worried, unless your in SP :-\

(Seriously, I hope the gov't reforms, then there's a chance of long run better systems; look to Chile)

wilerson8 karma

I'm a bit late for this AMA, but could you expand (if you've got the information) on the comparison of the crisis in California and in São Paulo? Which reforms could/should be done by the brazilian government? Are the culprits the same? SP rivers are very polluted, how feasible would be to clean them? EDIT: for people who dig up this thread, I have found some articles on David's website regarding São Paulo:




davidzet8 karma

Thanks for the links.

There are governance problems in both places, and infrastructure really constrains action. AFAIK, SP has less water in storage whereas CA cities can ge tit from aggies, so it's less desperate.

Reforms? Crack down on corruption. Set performance targets. Spend $ on water instead of worthless stadiums.

WalkingTurtleMan24 karma

How likely are we going to see water rights reforms, especially for agribusiness?

davidzet33 karma

It's rising in probability. The key is to retire "paper" licenses so "wet" ones are worth something.

Aussie farmers made $billions trading theirs. US farmers should too.

Smuckinfartass22 karma

How much of the problem do you think is due to the vanity of having a green lawn?

davidzet57 karma

Not as much of a problem as $1.15 for 1,000 gallons in Las Vegas!

dillonsrule21 karma

Hello, thank you for stopping by : ) I took a class on water in the west and we read "Cadillac Desert" by Marc Reisner, which I found fascinating.

Is there a book that you think a lay audience could read and enjoy which provides good information or insight into the current water shortage or the history of water use without being super boring?

davidzet18 karma

drewrltr20 karma

What can we do here in Utah? We have are the second driest state in the nation and our water usage here is absurd. From what I understand or aquifers are being drained to supply Nevada and southern California.

davidzet28 karma

That may be true. The first step is to limit use/exports to "return flows" so aquifers stabilize. "Abundance" is gone, so management needs to change. (see my book)

NotSureIfLeftHanded17 karma

Over the next 30-50 years do you think California will remain the agricultural producing region that it is today? In general, do you think policy makers will be able to incorporate a longer-term perspective when addressing the current acute water shortage (especially given shortages anticipated by many of the downscaled climate scenarios for the Colorado River Basin)? Thanks!

davidzet32 karma

I'd prefer the gradual evolution that markets would drive, since pols are not great at planning economies

Gelton17 karma

How soon until the american south west goes after the water in the great lakes?

bettorworse97 karma

Good luck on that. All the surrounding states and provinces have a deal preventing that very thing.


It SEEMS like there is a lot of water in the Great Lakes, but actually most of that water was deposited by the glaciers retreating thousands of years ago and the water now being taken out of the Great Lakes watershed is barely replenished by rain and rivers.

Hell, right now, cities just outside the watershed of the Great Lakes can't get water from the Great Lakes - we sure aren't shipping it to the Southwest. They even closed a bottled water plant in Wisconsin because too much water was leaving the Lakes.

davidzet50 karma


aero21916 karma

Would implementation of grey-water solutions on a broad spectrum or in high traffic areas (i.e airport terminals, stadiums, etc.) help the shortage in any significant way?

davidzet21 karma

Yes, if that water was going to be treated and dumped (e.g, SD), but not if the water was going to be recycled (OC or Singapore). I prefer landscaping that can "survive on its own"

PFN7816 karma

Chicagoan here, and user of the wonderful resource that is Lake Michigan.

How would something like the Great Lakes Compact for western state's water supplies help prevent abuse of those supplies? And how successful has it been for the Great Lakes states and provinces? Has it helped keep water levels at a safe level, no pun intended?

davidzet10 karma

The lakes are easier to monitor and connected, so wouldn't work in West

Zthulu11 karma

Isn't something like 70% of the water supply consumed by agriculture? Then why are private homes being restricted, but not businesses? Also, wouldn't everyone going vegetarian solve all of the problems?

davidzet19 karma

Politics and no.



Imonstrous11 karma

I keep hearing this "one year of water left" claim.

As a homeowner in California, what does that really mean to me? Does that mean that in ~ a year, my tap won't work anymore? That we just pay more for water? How worried does the regular, head in the sand, Californian need to be?

davidzet9 karma

Farmers will lose water before you do.

Lots of potential stupid before that tho.

ydranthantalus10 karma

Hi David,

I am from Turkey and I was wondering about the true impact of multinational companies such as Nestle etc, owning wells and springs and other water resources. I read that it is a big deal in America. What about the rest of the world, especially Turkey?

Thanks for the AMA.

davidzet15 karma

It can be a big deal. I know of a local water bottler in Lebanon that's using the town's water.

Bottled water is ok, as long as use is limited to yield.

dustywillson20039 karma

How is canada for water management? I hope it's not as bad as I think it is.

joeypeapots9 karma

I read recently that from beginning to end, it takes over 1,700 litres of water to make one 100g bar of chocolate. My question to you is, what is the biggest waste of water in manufacturing that you know of, or the largest use of it to output the smallest product?


davidzet30 karma

It depends where the product is produced.

Rainfed chocolate is sustainable in that dimension.

Irrigated corn is less sustainable, esp if the water is "mined" from underground.

Proper water pricing would mean that foods would have the "right" price and you wouldn't need to ask this Q.

Kuwait_Drive_Yards9 karma

What happens when we drink the aquifers dry?

Aren't we currently pulling out way more than can be replenished?

davidzet9 karma

They can collapse (useless for storage in future).

No water next year.


Smecker9 karma

Would building a water desalination plants be a realistic option for the state? With rising sea levels and global water shortages this seems like it might be a good way to try a solve both problems.

davidzet12 karma

No. $ and time.

You're not going to drain the sea w desal :)

poonhounds8 karma

Someone told me that, technically, there is more water physically present within the territory of California than at any time in the history of planet earth, and therefore, it is not climate change causing this drought, rather, it is human migration into California has outstripped the supply of water that has been diverted into the state over the past 2 centuries via irrigation and urban development.

Is this the scientific consensus?

davidzet13 karma

It's not consensus, esp. as g/w is WAY over depleted.

It is true that shortage = Demand > supply and population increases demand.

antipassion7 karma

I'm interested in owning clean water the way one might own oil, investing in it in other words, directly. Or the most direct way possible. How do you invest in water? It's the true oil.

davidzet26 karma

Buy land over YOUR OWN AQUIFER.

Then hope that a city locates nearby.

baptie77 karma

Is the First in Time, First in right system fundamentally flawed? Does it lead to suboptimal allocation of water and therefore poor conservation/efficiency?

As you used to live in BC, what would be an ideal allocation system for the province?

davidzet12 karma

yes, it's flawed if it's not used as a cap and trade system, i.e., people taking too much

The province should sell water based on local, "pooled" auctions, and use the money for citizens

gobstopper847 karma

I heard that most of our water problems would be solved if we all stopped watering ours lawns, and planted succulents in our front yard instead. Is this true? If yes, how do we initiate a culture change?

davidzet12 karma

True UNTIL more people move in.

Some people will "change culture" but most look at prices. Expensive water means fewer lawns (and people).

discosweat5 karma

Just last night my friend was convinced that it is too late and that there is "absolutely nothing" we can do to help stop or ease the drought. I understand that we can't make rain, but what can we do as individuals and communities that isn't already being done? Is cutting down the time we take in the shower, or zeroscaping as futile as my friend thinks?

davidzet14 karma

Call you representative and tell them to get serious about conserving supplies rather than letting farmers irrigate.

gactech4 karma

What can we expect if the reservoirs dry up?

davidzet4 karma

Reliance on groundwater and dead rivers.

RavenQuill4 karma

There are various water bills that are popping up in various major cities to increase the price of water. What is your stance on bills such as this?

davidzet5 karma

I agree. Excess $ can help the poor. Read this

grebilrancher4 karma

Can Arizona send CA some water?

davidzet13 karma

I'd prefer they sell it.

huehuelewis4 karma

Almonds use allegedly about a gallon of water to grow each almond!

And I heard that most of the almonds california grows get exported. I'm not sure exactly what effect almonds have on California 's economy, but what do you think the future holds for California 's almond market?

davidzet9 karma

Interesting topic, from a policy angle. Read this (and my reply)

tmtreat4 karma

With the water quantity crisis making headlines, are there water quality issues that southern CA can expect to face in light of factors such as record low snowpack?

davidzet12 karma

Yes. LADWP is working hard to "recover" g/w that's been contaminated by defense industries. The less surface water, the more they will try to get that g/w. They may have a hard time removing all the crap. Then there are the MANY people who depend on well water (S Central Valley esp) who suffer from ag runoff contamination.

It's basically a problem of sucking off the bottom of the barrel.

Wlkndwlk3 karma

Why isn't Cleveland more awesome being that it is contingent to a beautiful body of freshwater?

Why move to California when you can take hour long showers as many times a day as you please here in Ohio?

Best regards,

Clean in Cleveland

davidzet7 karma

You're right.

Best from Amsterdam.

bk2153 karma

Do you know about the water crisis in some parts of India? How serious are the other water economists all over the world about the water crisis in many parts of the world?

davidzet3 karma

Not serious unless they can publish.

Most focus on local issues.

number6767663 karma

This is a field I'm extremely interested in. Being from a great Lakes state with the only freshwater school in my town, I would love to get into this.

Do you have any advice on specializing my econ degree to freshwater science?

davidzet4 karma

Get internships in industry AND govt

omgitsduaner2 karma

Hey, thanks for doing this AMA, this situation is so captivating and what a great time to shed some knowledge on people.

My question is what progress is being made to bring more desalination plants to the California coasts? My limited understanding is that building these plants would qualify to get government subsidies or grants from the Energy Department? (Learned from Google so could be wrong here.) But if these plants could get a subsidy or grant to be built, why isn't there a major public push to do so? It seems that no matter what the cost (which you identified below to be very cheap) this should be a huge priority to address the problem long-term.

davidzet3 karma

There's one under construction near San Diego. $1 billion and 15 years due to lawsuits.

They are no panacea and thus subsidies may force greater stupid than you'd want.

Check the desal links above.

OhMy80082 karma

How worried should we be? Ive been accused of tin foil hattery every time Ive brought up concerns about water

davidzet1 karma

Talk to your local water managers. Read their reports. Then decide.

partyeveryright2 karma

What is your favorite human right and how do you celebrate it?

davidzet3 karma

sortanothing2 karma

If you owned a house in Ventura, would you sell it now?

davidzet5 karma

Move to Detroit.

Mike_Freyrie1 karma

We rarely talk about water as one of the reasons of the middle eastern crisis. Is it because the situation isn't that bad or it's just a case of shortsighted vision?

davidzet3 karma

It's a problem caused by the same underlying issue: political failures.

picklemejoe1 karma

It rained just a couple days ago and my pool is full.

Why is the media hype machine generating a panic?

davidzet1 karma

(1) Can you drink your pool water?

(2) Will it last until the next rain?

peterpanman21 karma

I've heard it suggested that improving California's water storage infrastructure could have helped prevent the emergency state we are entering into. Is there any merit to this and if so, what sort of improvements do you think would be most beneficial?

davidzet3 karma

Not really. There's just no water to go in reservoirs and bigger ones would run out too.

Jay Lund @ UCDavis says it's about interconnected systems, not storage.

The best spots are taken (so new reservoirs are a bad idea). It's better to manage aquifers since they store more with lower losses (and you can let rivers run).

dj46291 karma

Can you advise on an investment vehicle that 'bets on' water scarcity in the future? Any publicly held companies that are offering solutions to water-challenged areas? Bonus points if they are not evil but working for the forces of good. Thanks

davidzet2 karma

Water quality. Testing, cleaning.

Do NOT invest in "water shares" etc. as politics can make/kill them.