On March 21st, The League of Women Voters hosted a panel discussion on climate change, rising sea level, water shortages and increased water cost in Benicia. The panel consisted of three key Solano County residents. Jerry Potter, a Nasa Climate Scientist, spoke about climate models used to predict global warming and shared overwhelming data regarding increasing temperatures on earth. Not one person in the room argued against the evidence.  He emphasized that storms  and drought will be more intense as temperatures increase.

Andy Florendo, from the Solano County Water Agency covered the history of Lake Berryessa, Lake Oroville and our Solano County water shed.  He stressed the disturbing fact that California water shortages will remain chronic and if do do not begin using water more efficiently.  Mayor Elizabeth Patterson talked about integrated water management and  highlighted the importance of working together as a County to be more efficient with our use of water in our Mediterranean climate.

During the Q&A session, one main concern voiced from a woman on a fixed income was the high cost of water in Benicia.  From the shakiness in her voice, the room could sense how deeply increasing water costs were impacting the financial health of her household. She was making significant changes to conserve water in her household yet her water bill remained a financial burden. This is a problem with no real easy solution. The cost to treat poor water quality is a major component to why bills are so high.

Mayor Patterson was kind enough to listen to my question after the allotted time for Q&A. I asked, “What incentives are being done to motivate Benicia residents to install laundry-to-landscape greywater systems?”  Residents are washing their clothes weekly, so why not recycle this water to irrigate the landscape?  Using secondary water sources such water from your washing machine is a steady water source during the summer and can be used to water fruit trees, berry shrubs and many other plants.

Mayor Patterson commented that would like to hear from the Benicia community about ways to come together to conserve more water.  Show up to the next town hall meeting and collaborate with the community for creative solutions to use water more wisely.  The next city council meeting is Tuesday, April 3 at 7:00pm held in the Council Chamber at City Hall. Hope to see you there!