Current Water Shortages in California California Water Issues

Shortages are the result of:

  • Increased populations and demand
  • Policy failures
  • Global warming resulting in prolonged drought conditions

Policy Options

  • Shortages could become more severe in the future as population grows and reservoirs dry up
  • Current trajectory of California's water use will lead to rationing of water
  • Rationing could come in the form of
    • Percentage of past use
    • Restricted uses (e.g. car washing, swimming pools, landscaping)
  • Rationing is economically inefficient. Market prices are the best method to deal with scarcity
    • Allow people to adjust usage to meet their own needs
    • Pricing mechanisms are available to ensure low income water availability
    • Water markets implemented with success in 1990-1991
    • Federal Government discourages water markets
    • MWD heavily in favor of water markets


  • Desalination is also an option
  • Expensive
  • Energy intensive
  • Current and planned capacity not enough to deal with shortages