On Friday, May 12, Turbulent Futures held the third session of their “Water and Climate Change in Times of Crisis” series in HUB 355 from 1:15 p.m. to 3 p.m. The title of the third session was “Water in an International Context” and was moderated by Professor of Entomology Dr. Peter Atkinson.
The event began with the introduction of UCR Professor in the School of Public Policy Dr. Ariel Dinar. Dinar then began his presentation on political intervention during times of water scarcity. Dinar argued that when a country or state is experiencing water scarcity, the government will adjust their policies accordingly.
Dinar explained that when it comes to policy intervention, one can tell the severity of the intervention through the pricing of water irrigation. On the other hand, the pricing of residential water has an inverse relationship — the price of water is higher when less water is required.
“I could see that there is an inverse relationship between the method of available water per capita, which is a measure of viscosity and the average price per irrigation water,” Dinar stated, “Countries like Australia, Chile, California and some others that face water scarcity and variability in availability of water over time usually try, there is an attempt to try some market approaches. And these market approaches are the trade or trading water.”
The next presenter to speak was Water Resource Control Board and California Environmental Protection Agency member Jose Angel. Angel explained that there is an issue concerning water in California due to the fact that around 75 percent of California’s water supply is in Northern California, while 80 percent of the greatest demand is in Central and Southern California. Because of this, California restructured its water system in order to meet demands.
Angel also explained that by the year 2060, there will be a 60 percent shortcoming of water in the Colorado River as well as a 3.2 degree increase.
He also emphasized the importance of the relationship between California and Mexico when it comes to water. “What we do on this side of the border, needless to say, has a significant, adverse effect, sometimes unfortunately, in some form for our friends in the south.”
When asked about the potential ramifications of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, Angel emphatically stated, “That does not solve or address any of these (water) problems, in fact, it makes things worse. We need Mexico’s cooperation to solve water quality problems along the border.”
The last person to speak was UCR Professor of Soil Biogeochemistry Dr. Samantha Ying who discussed the issue of arsenic in the water supply in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. This is due to wells that were installed in various parts of the country in 1970 in order to reduce the infant mortality rate, which was the highest in the world in 1960. According to Ying, the constant pumping of water causes the arsenic in the soil to be mixed into the water and then pumped out through the wells.
“What our studies and our colleagues have shown is that if you keep pumping it you actually end up getting some of that arsenic,” Ying explained. She later stated, when asked what can be done about the arsenic, “I think that transferring back to surface water seems like one of the more practical ways.”
Once the question and answer section of Ying’s presentation concluded, it was announced that there would be a 15-minute break before the next portion of the session which included a presentation by Celeste Cantu from the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority.