Mountain House CA, a planned community of 12,000, had ample warning in 1994 it should have a backup water supply and ignored it. Today, its sole source of water has been shut off by California due to the drought and Mountain House is forced to buy expensive water on the open market. This is a clear example of how incompetent governance combines with greedhead developers makes drought much worse than it should have been.
Mountain House gets water from the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, which has usually unassailable senior water rights. Except when it doesn’t. Rather than get a backup supply, and knowing Byron-Bethany has its supply cut back during an earlier drought, Mountain House chose to ignore all that, and is now in deep, mostly self-inflicted trouble.
But there was at least some concern about that water supply in 1994, when the Mountain House environmental impact report warned that Byron-Bethany’s supply “may be diminished by future federal and/or state regulatory actions.”
There was precedent for that statement. Byron-Bethany had been among those senior water users curtailed during the 1970s.
The environmental report also called for “adequate raw water storage” to make sure the town would have at least some water on hand if its supply was cut off. Today, Mountain House has tanks that can store about a week’s worth of water for its more than 14,000 residents.
The irrigation district is taking legal action to stop California from curtailing its water. Bizarrely, Mountain View is now buying water from another irrigation district, perhaps showing just how screwy and dysfunctional California’s water delivery system is. Instead of a bewildering patchwork of local water boards and districts, there needs to be serious central planning, and it needs to be enforceable.