The Council of State Governments - WEST


May 15, 2013

In This Issue
Water Usage in the West
Results First: Moving States Forward
WLA Class Selection Update
Strengthening California - Mexico Cooperation
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July 30 - August 2, 2013

Las Vegas, Nevada

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Water Usage in the West


By Hans Poschman, CSG-WEST Policy Analyst 


Since 1950 the United States Geological Survey (USGS) has produced water use reports every five years to give a detailed look at how the United States uses water. The most recent USGS estimates show that in 2005 average water withdrawals i was about 410 billion gallons per day (BGD) from fresh and salt water sources.  Forty-nine percent of those withdrawals were for thermoelectric power and thirty-one percent was for agricultural uses. Domestic uses (indoor and outdoor residential uses, such as drinking water, sanitation, and lawn watering) accounted for just over 7% of total withdrawals. While the data does not distinguish between consumptive and non-consumptive uses, it gives a clear picture of how much water we use and just how important water is to the everyday functioning of our society.


There are vast differences in water usage from state to state that often corresponds to their geography. Coastal states like California, Florida, and Connecticut are able to use salt water for most of their thermoelectric power needs which reduces their dependence on fresh water resources. States like Oregon and Idaho benefit from the many hydroelectric facilities throughout their region and use little water for electrical generation. The USGS considers water used to create hydroelectric energy to be in-stream flows and does not count it in its calculations.


Per capita domestic water usage also varies greatly from state to state. Maine uses the least at only 54 gallons per person per day, while Nevada uses the most at 190 gallons per person per day. According to the 2005 USGS data, every Western state except for Alaska uses more than 100 gallons of water per person per day. Some of this differential in water use can be easily explained by climate differences. For example, areas of the country with greater precipitation required less water for lawns and gardens compared to desert communities in Arizona, California and Nevada.


Since 1985 total daily water usage has remained consistent between 399-410 BGD. This is despite a population that has grown from 237 million in 1985 to 297 million in 2005. Water conservation is making a difference. In 1980 the US used 1.980 gallons of water per person every day; in 2005 that number had dropped to 1,383. As population continues to grow - the  US Census Bureau projects that the US population will cross the 400 million mark in 2051- we will face additional pressures on our water supplies that will require the US to find new water supplies, further reduce consumption or both.


Click here to see detailed statistics about water use in your state. 

This is the third in a series of short issue briefs that CSG-West will be publishing throughout the year. The issue briefs will cover a variety of topics. If you have a suggestion for a topic, feel free to send your ideas to
Webinar:  Results First: Moving States Forward

 Results First: Moving States Forward

By Jennifer Burnett, Program Manager, Fiscal and Economic Policy 


As state leaders continue their search for better, more efficient ways of doing business, a few strategies have emerged. Several states are putting one strategy into place-using an evidence-based, rigorous cost-benefit model to make policy decisions-thanks to the efforts of The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative. The initiative will be discussed during a webinar at 3 p.m. EDT Tuesday, May 28.


Results First is a joint project of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation that works with states to implement an innovative cost-benefit analysis approach to help them invest in policies and programs that are proven to work. Results First provides state leaders with a tool for comparing the returns on investment for state-funded programs in an unbiased, nonpartisan way, according to Gary VanLandingham, director of the initiative. The model can help state leaders make better policy choices and enable them to target their limited resources at programs that generate the best returns. "This is a much more rational strategy than making across-the-board cuts that reduce funding for effective and ineffective programs alike," said VanLandingham. In working with their 14 partner states, Results First has demonstrated early success in a number of ways, including helping states to:

  • Implement the best research-based cost-benefit models to assess policy alternatives;
  • Design policies that work together as a total package or "portfolio," recognizing that investments or cuts in one program can affect costs and outcomes in others; and
  • Learn from each other, adapting best practices so each state doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.
"In addition, we have been successful at creating the climate needed to make decisions based on results, not anecdotes or external pressures, by providing technical assistance and other direct support," said VanLandingham. Results First is working with Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont to adopt the model and begin applying this rigorous analysis to their policy and budget decisions. More states are expected to join the initiative in the coming months. On the webinar, Results First staff will provide an overview of the initiative and discuss the cost-benefit model. In addition, representatives from three partner states will share their experiences in working with Results First. 


Register Today

WLA Class Selection Update

Admission to the Western Legislative Academy (WLA) is going to be very competitive this year. With well over 100 applicants for only 39 spots, Executive Committee members from each state are going to have to make some tough decisions about who is accepted to this year's Academy.  We would like to thank everyone who applied for this year's program.


The WLA class selection is a multi-step process that started with newer state legislators - those within their first four years of service - submitting their applications to be part of the 14th WLA class.  All of the applications are currently being reviewed for completion and sorted out by state.  In the coming weeks the applications will be delivered to the in-state ranking process coordinators in each state (usually the Legislative Service Agency & Research Directors). The coordinators will work with the CSG-WEST Executive Committee members in each state, which comprise a bipartisan group of leaders, to rank their state's applicants. These rankings are then used by the full Executive Committee to select the participants for the 2013 WLA class. Class selection will take place at the CSG-WEST Executive Committee Luncheon, within the Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 30th.


If you would like to know more about the WLA selection process please contact CSG-WEST at 916-553-4423 or 


Click here to learn more about WLA

Strengthening California - Mexico Cooperation

CSG-WEST Executive Director Edgar Ruiz Addressing the Crowd

On May 6, representatives of the California Legislature, the Council of State Governments-WEST, Mexico's Consulate General in Sacramento and Cien Amigos (100 Friends), a nonprofit organization that fosters greater collaboration between California and Mexico, organized activities for the Fourth Annual California - Mexico Advocacy Day. The California - Mexico Advocacy Day provides a forum for leaders to showcase the importance of the binational relationship and to engage in substantive dialogue aimed at addressing shared interests and concerns.


This year's activities included a hearing by the California Senate Select Committee on California - Mexico Cooperation, chaired by Senator Lou Correa, which focused on higher education exchange opportunities between California and Mexico. Senator Correa also serves as the current vice chair of CSG-WEST's Border Legislative Conference, a binational mechanism of cooperation among legislators of the 10 U.S. - Mexico border states. 


A reception at the Leland Stanford Mansion brought together dignitaries from Mexico, the California legislature, and other public and private stakeholders interested in the binational relationship. Speakers highlighted Mexico's role as California's largest trading partner. Additionally, a sister-city agreement was signed between the cities of Sacramento and Mexicali, which are the capitols of California and Baja California, Mexico, respectfully. This sister-city agreement will further strengthen existing ties and expand cultural exchanges aimed at enhancing cooperation between the two capitol cities. Honorary attendees included the Mayor of Mexicali, Francisco José Pérez Tejada Padilla, and Mexico's Foreign Ministry Director General for North America Affairs, Ana Luisa Fajer Flores. 

The mission of CSG-WEST is to facilitate regional, nonpartisan cooperation and exchange of information, and to strengthen legislative institutions among our 13 member states. These services are achieved through a variety of programs and services offered to legislators and their staff, including the convening of policy forums, professional development training, international relations opportunities, publications and institutional links with other political entities in the West.

CSG-WEST serves the Western legislatures of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Associate members include the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and the Pacific islands of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.