California Political Leader: Water Infrastructure Should be Top Environmental Concern, Not Divestment

In an op-ed published in the California Political Review, Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker  raised awareness of the fact that in the debate over divestment, other  far more urgent and consequential environmental issues have not received as much scrutiny, even though they should.

Highlighting the fact that there is no consensus around the idea that divestment would actually address environmental challenges, Whitaker cited both CalPERS and Stanford University’s opposition to divestment. CalPERS’ officials called divestment “an ineffective strategy for achieving social or political goals” while Stanford University’s Board of Trustees stated that they did “not believe that a credible case can be made for divesting from the fossil fuel industry.”

According to Whitaker, the overlooked issue that needs to be addressed is water infrastructure. Punishing droughts have become a feature in California, and many critics, even in the environmental community, attribute it to poor water management. The problem is compounded by the fact that a large share of the state’s water infrastructure was built 100 years ago, at a time when the state’s population and demand for water, was a fraction of what it is today. Even when water is in abundance, the state faces other perils, as was demonstrated during the recent drama at Oroville Dam, whose potential collapse imperiled hundreds of thousands of residents.

Whitaker is no stranger to water infrastructure issues, as he is also the Director of the Orange County Water District. In his op-ed, he urges the state leaders, businesses, and environmental groups to make a concerted effort to amend “how cities use water; how irrigation can be made more efficient; and how we price and track water use.”

Click here to read Mayor Whitaker’s op-ed.

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