Californians Pay The Price During Drought Years

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Water levels are low at the San Luis Reservoir, near Los Banos, California on March 11, 2009. (Robyn Beck / Getty Images)

Low water levels at the San Luis Reservoir, near Los Banos, California on March 11, 2009. (Robyn Beck / Getty Images)

MargieShafer20100909_KCBS_0346r Margie Shafer
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OAKLAND (KCBS) – A just released water policy report finds consumers paid dearly during California’s most recent drought in the form of higher energy prices, and environmental strain.

California’s most recent drought stretched from 2007 to 2009, and cost the state’s electricity customers an extra $1.7 billion as water power was mostly substituted with natural gas.

KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:

”Since hydropower relies on stream flow and stream flow was reduced, our hydropower production was cut roughly in half and we had to substitute that with other sources,” said Dr. Juliet Christian-Smith with the Pacific Institute’s water program.

Interestingly, overall state agriculture fared well, tallying the highest revenue on record. Still, farmers severely drew down ground water, which Christian-Smith said is not a sustainable strategy. She said energy, agriculture, and the environment remain vulnerable to a longer more severe drought.

”We really need to, as a state, transition from short term coping measures to long term mitigation strategies,” said Christian-Smith.

She said the state will experience another drought because it is endemic to the California climate.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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