Pasadena's 25-Year Water Plan Doesn't Hold Water

As long as people have lived in our region, water has been an essential element for the life-style, health and economy of our region. Now, however, Pasadena faces a severe water crisis. Water has never been an easy need to resolve, but now population, growth and Climate Change have made the development of a sustainable or resilient water program an even greater challenge.

It's not just a challenge for Pasadena, but also for all of California, and even the nation. Recognizing that, Governor Gavin Newsom has issued an executive order calling for the establishment of a resilient water program for the future, and last year California released the Water Resilience Portfolio.

What does resilience mean? Governor Newsom describes it as the ability "to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges."

Pasadena Water & Power (PWP) has unveiled a plan for the next 25 years called the Water System and Resource Plan (Plan). It is a $425 million plan, though, that is not resilient, and it relies heavily on continuing to drain the local Raymond Groundwater Basin, neglecting environmental stewardship and minimizing the impacts of Climate Change.

The Plan will be considered for approval by the Pasadena City Council in February 2021. We hope you will get involved.

There is some good information in the plan, such as much of the factual data it provides about Pasadena water and the emphasis on better management of local supplies and programs. It is worth studying carefully. Here is the link to the document:

PWP's Proposed Plan

Here's what's wrong with Pasadena's Water System and Resources Plan

  1. The Plan fails to adequately address the disastrous, declining groundwater levels in the Raymond Basin, our vital local water source;
  2. The Plan evaluates several alternative portfolios but ends up picking the worst alternative, the one that will "Maximize Groundwater Supplies" without stabilizing and replenishing the basin;
  3. The Plan evaluates alternative portfolios with a questionable ranking system that assigns a low value to cost (11%) and gives a comparable value to intangible factors like "community values" that are difficult to calculate and are often arbitrary.
  4. The Plan minimizes or ignores the impacts of Climate Change, using only past usage patterns that are overly-optimistic in the era of Climate Change;
  5. The Plan doesn't provide a detailed comprehensive conservation strategy, setting big goals sparse analysis and suggesting only minimum funding;
  6. The Plan fails to properly consider the potential for stormwater capture, recycled water, transfers and other 21st century water management programs.
  7. The Plan has largely been shielded from public review and input; it has only been shared with a small group of insiders and two poorly-attended public meetings held more than a year ago;
  8. The Plan has a whopping $425 million cost estimate over the next 25 years, which will drive water rates far higher, $250 million more than current revenues without solving key problems;
  9. The Plan neglects partnership programs with the Raymond Basin Management Board (RBMB), Metropolitan Water District (MWD) and other local water agencies;
  10. The Plan will likely lead to the demise of the Raymond Basin, an invaluable water resource and emergency supply.

Here's How the City Council and the Community Can Fix it:

Pasadena can no longer be complacent and take water for granted. The era of cheap water has passed, and now everyone needs to pitch in to solve the water challenge. This can be our most important local response to Climate Change.

Let the River Flow — Heal the Basin

Pasadena's Water Crisis Groundwater PWP's Water Plan Arroyo Seco Canyon Project

For More Information: Arroyo Seco Foundation, PO Box 91622, Pasadena, CA 91109-1622