Executive Summary for September 23rd

In this weekly roundup, we analyze key developments in the California drought, including efforts to identify the state’s biggest water guzzler. We also look at the Winnemem Wintu tribe’s journey to protect salmon and the presidential candidates’ policies on water.

Published on Sep. 23, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Water Wasters Sleuthing

While many Californians were letting their lawns turn brown or switching to drought-tolerant plants, some residents have ignored the drought and kept guzzling water – and one more than all the rest, as Reveal reported last year.

In 2015 the Center for Investigative Reporting’s publication wrote that a resident of the ritzy Bel Air neighborhood was found to be the largest residential water user in the state, using 11.8 million gallons (44.7 million liters) of water in a single year – which Reveal says is enough for 90 households.

Apparently not into the drought-shaming that other water districts have done, the city of Los Angeles refused to reveal the identity of the so-called Wet Prince of Bel Air. So Reveal did some research. “Using satellite images, an algorithm developed to track drought and deforestation and equations used in landscape planning, we identified seven of the most likely culprits,” it reported in a news story released this week.

The list narrowed the culprits down to: former Univision CEO Jerrold Perenchio; investment banker and telecommunications tycoon Gary Winnick; movie producer Peter Guber; the Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Walton Laurie; former Warner Brothers chairman Robert Daly and Beverly Hilton Hotel owner Beny Alagem. Also on the list are the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, Colleen Bell, and her soap-opera producer husband Bradley. Will the real Wet Prince please step forward?

Presidential Nominees on Water Policy

Wondering where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump stand on western water issues? A new post on Science Blogs by Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute examines the candidates’ statements and policy positions.

Clinton has a few policy proposals on her website, Gleick writes. These include increasing water reuse “with a goal of doubling public-private partnership investments in water reuse and reclamation in the first term.” She also wants to create a water innovation lab and “unlock new resources for local water infrastructure as part of her $275 billion infrastructure plan.”

When it comes to Trump, it’s less clear what his positions are on water issues in the west or elsewhere (or any environmental topics) as there are none listed on his website under “positions” or “issues.”

Gleick did find some Trump quotes about water from a speech in California in May. He said: “There is no drought. They turn the water out into the ocean.” And “You know my environmental standard is very simple and I’ve said it to everybody – I want clean air and I want clean water. That’s what I want. Clean air, clean water.”

Winnemem Wintu Trek

Members of the Winnemem Wintu tribe held a press conference on Tuesday in Sacramento as they are in the midst of a 300-mile (500km) trek and prayer journey from Vallejo to the historic winter-run salmon spawning grounds on the McCloud River.

“This journey is a walk/run/boat/bike and horseback ride to bring attention to the plight of all the runs of salmon in California, and the water management practices that have brought some of those runs to the edge of extinction,” the tribe said in a statement.

Chief Caleen Sisk said California Water Fix (which includes building new dams and tunnels) would cause more harm to salmon and spur efforts to enlarge Shasta Dam, which would “flood remaining sacred sites, and cultural sites that we still use today.”

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