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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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Does the Bay Area have the water it needs to grow?

By Laura Feinstein and Anne Thebo, San Francisco Examiner, October 29, 2021

While the Bay Area continues to struggle with affordable housing provision, “the region is experiencing a record-setting drought, just four years after the last historic drought ended. … Against this backdrop, you may wonder — does the Bay Area have enough water to continue to grow?”

A new report from SPUR and the Pacific Institute attempted to answer this question.

“One of the most interesting findings [from the report] was how much people could save water inside their homes just by installing the best available plumbing appliances. The typical Californian uses about 50 gallons per day inside their homes (including about eight gallons lost to leaks).

“There also are big opportunities to use less water outdoors. About a third of water in the Bay Area is used outside. With a combination of adopting water-efficient landscaping in residential yards and pursuing compact growth strategies, the region could reduce its water use by 28 percent compared to a business-as-usual approach.

“The commercial sector (businesses and other non-residential institutions) currently accounts for 37 percent of all water use in the Bay Area, but there’s comparatively little known about how businesses use water. Business owners have argued that laws requiring them to become more efficient could stifle the economy. It’s hard to counter them, because we don’t have good studies on water use in businesses.

“The keys are to continue to make homes, businesses and landscapes more efficient, and pursue compact land-use planning.”

Read the full article here. (~4 min.)

“Central Valley farmers and Southern California desalination supporters have begun collecting signatures for a statewide ballot measure that would fast-track big water projects and provide billions of dollars to fund them — potentially setting up a major political showdown with environmentalists next year shaped by the state’s ongoing drought.” Read that story by Paul Rogers in the Mercury News here. (~3 min.)

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