About Ellen Hanak, Director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, and David Mitchell, CoFounder & Principal at M.Cubed

Ellen Hanak is the director of the PPIC Water Policy Center and can be contacted at hanak@ppic.org.

David Mitchell is a cofounder and principal at M.Cubed, and can be contacted at mitchell@mcubed-econ.com. They are coauthors of the 2017 PPIC report, Building Drought Resilience in California’s Cities and Suburbs.

California as an Example for Managing Urban Water in Drought Periods

Coordinated approaches are preferred for building urban drought resilience. Over the long term, a “trust but verify” policy can be more effective than the “better safe than sorry” approach of the mandate because the former encourages local suppliers to continue investing in diversified supplies. A good model is the stress-test approach the state adopted toward the end of the drought, which allowed local utilities to drop mandated conservation if they could demonstrate that they had drought-resilient supplies to last three more years.
In the wake of the drought, the state has adopted measures to improve information sharing, including a system for urban suppliers to provide regular updates on their supply situations. To encourage all agencies to prepare for more extreme droughts, urban water management planning documents must now address how suppliers would manage longer droughts.