The water-challenged state of California is asking the public to help craft its approach to water management in order to build what Governor Gavin Newsom is calling “a climate-resilient water system.” The Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and Department of Food and Agriculture are putting together recommendations for the Governor, and are asking for ideas on actions that would help the state cope with its uncertain water supply.
California’s water challenges include an increasing occurrence of extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, year-round wildfires, species declines, aging infrastructure, contaminated water supplies and changing demands for water. State agencies say the public input will guide its decisions on priorities and specific actions, and are asking that “California’s water experts” and the public help identify both policies and projects that will reduce water-related risk.
“Think about California’s diverse regions 30 years from now,” Cal EPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld said. “What can the state do now to best help people, the environment and the economy thrive even as California’s natural fluctuations grow more variable and extreme?”
In addition to soliciting input at regularly scheduled and special public meetings of the state agencies, the state will work with universities, community organizations, water agencies and others to hold workshops and “listening sessions.”
The Sierra Nevada snowpack – source of much of the state’s water supply – is expected to shrink in coming decades as storms grow warmer. Other changes from warmer temperatures include soil moisture, energy consumption and crop patterns.
Among the questions agency officials are considering:
- How can the state help communities ensure safe, affordable drinking water?
- What can the state do to better enable local and regional water districts to capture, store and move water?
- What state actions can support ongoing water conservation?
- How can the state better protect fish and wildlife and manage urban and agricultural water through the next drought?
- What can the state do now to prepare for economic adjustments as communities fully implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in coming years?
- Which state policies or laws no longer fit California’s water reality or public values?
- What are the most troublesome gaps in state data that, if filled, would ease regional water management?
- Are there proven technologies and forecasting tools that should be adopted across California to bolster the sustainability of water systems?
- What models from other states and nations should California consider?