The Sacramento County Department of Water Resources is in the
final phases of a billion dollar regional water project. Herb
Niederberger is the Division Chief of the water agency.
"We've gone from four million dollars in a debt payment to
more than 25 million dollars in debt to pay for facilities that
will last the water agency for a hundred years," Niederberger
said. "But they've been constructed
Niederberger says the water agency pays those bonds with
revenue it collects from developers and customers. And for
the past couple years, development has been non-existent. So
that leaves customers to pick up the tab with a five dollar a month
And while that project is specific to that area, cities across
California are facing a similar problem. California's aging water
infrastructure needs updating. At the same time, regulation
is also driving water prices higher.
Danny Merkley is the Director of Water Resources for the
California Farm Bureau.
"Mother Nature's drought may be over this year, but we are
dealing with a tremendous regulatory drought."
He says laws that protect fish and their habitats not only
make water more expensive for farmers but harder to access.
He says there's a trend of farmers abandoning water-intensive crops
like alfalfa and tomatoes, and planting nut trees and grape vines
that can better weather dry conditions.