Sometimes, I read something that makes me so mad, I dash off a quick email to a friend who gets it. This time, I sent it off to the entire LWVC googlegroup and got some 'attagirl' affirmations back. So, let's share this take down.
First, read These five people could make or break the Colorado River. Do you see what is wrong with this quote by one of the five people, Imperial Irrigation District (IID) commissioner J. B. Hamby?
Hamby also pointed to the huge amounts of water that are still wasted, in his view, in cities such as Los Angeles. "It’s very easy to point at the alfalfa field, but what about drying out the lawns and useless grass?"
The Colorado River (CR) is subject to all sorts of unrealistic math, well-documented elsewhere. We have these benchmark Colorado River allocations based upon 16.5 Million Acre Feet (MAC). Mexico gets 1.5 MAF, and the Upper and Lower Basin states get 7.5 MAF each.
California gets the lion's share. In the benchmark scenario, farmers, mostly the IID, get 3.85 MAF out of California's 4.4 MAF. The remaining 0.55 MAF goes to the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), who sells it wholesale to 19 Million urban users based on a system of rights allocated decades ago. It's roughly a 70/30 split between farmers and urban users before water rights transfers. (Cities buy about 0.5 MAF of CR water allocations from farmers.)
In practice, the CR does not have that much water and IID gets around 2.5-2.6 MAF and the cities get about half that, and then purchase more from farmers.
IID commissioner Hamby pointed to LA lawns in a rhetorical trick called misdirection. It's often employed by magicians so you don't look at what they are really doing.
Let's do the math!
If we take him literally, let's run the numbers for the City of Los Angeles' Department of Water and Power, LA DWP.IID receives 2.5-2.6 MAF from the CO River. LADWP uses 0.5 MAF/year from all sources and serves 4 M people. An acre-foot serves 8 Angelenos for an entire year. (An acre foot serves 20 apartment dwellers in new, efficient homes!)