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Saturday, March 25, 2023

California announces water strategies in the face of increased heat and droughts

Water Strategies in California
Photo: Office of the Governor of California

Warmer and drier weather conditions caused by climate change could reduce California's water supply by as much as 10 percent by 2040 if strong action is not taken, prompting Governor Gavin Newsom to announce California's water strategies to help the state adapt to more extreme weather patterns.

The announcement Thursday follows $8 billion in state investments over the past two years for California water strategies that include helping to store, recycle, desalinate and conserve the water it will need to keep up with the increasing pace of climate change, generating enough water in the future for more than 8.4 million homes by 2040.

The actions, described in a strategy document published by the Administration called ".California's water supply strategy, Adapting to a warmer, drier future."They call for investing in new sources of water supply, accelerating projects and modernizing the way the state manages water through new technology.

This approach to water supply management in California recognizes the latest science indicating that the western United States is experiencing extreme and sustained drought conditions caused by a warmer and drier climate.

The warm climate means that more of the rain and snowfall California receives will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants and evaporated into the air. This leaves less water to meet the state's needs.

"The best science tells us we must act now to adapt to California's water future. Climate change means that drought won't just stick around for two years as it has historically - extreme weather is the new normal here in the western United States and California will adapt to this new reality," Governor Newsom said at Antioch Brackish Desalination. Project. 

Photo: Office of the Governor of California

"California is launching an aggressive plan to rebuild the way we source, store and deliver water so our children and grandchildren can continue to call California home in this warmer, drier climate," he added.

To help offset the water supplies California could lose over the next two decades, the strategy prioritizes actions to capture, recycle, desalinate, and conserve more water. These actions include:

  • Create storage space for up to 4 million acre-feet of water, which will allow us to take advantage of large storms when they occur and store water for dry periods.
  • Recycle and reuse at least 800 thousand acre-feet of water per year by 2030, which will allow for better and safer use of wastewater currently discharged into the ocean.
  • Free up 500,000 acre-feet of water through more efficient water use and conservation, helping to offset water loss due to climate change.

Make new water available for use by capturing stormwater and desalinating ocean water and saltwater in groundwater basins, diversifying supplies, and maximizing high flows during storms.

These actions are broadly identified in the Newsom Administration's Water Resilience Portfolio, the state's master plan for water released in 2020, but will be accelerated given the urgency of climate-driven changes. 

To advance the infrastructure and policies needed to adapt, the strategy calls for the Legislature's help in streamlining processes so that projects can be planned, permitted and built more quickly, while protecting the environment.

The 2022-23 budget includes an additional $2.8 billion for drought relief to the most affected communities, water conservation, environmental protection for fish and wildlife, and long-term drought resiliency projects.

You may be interested in: Bay Area leads statewide water conservation efforts

Peninsula 360 Press
Peninsula 360 Presshttps://peninsula360press.com
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