August 28, 2020 - From the August, 2020 issue

CA Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot on the Governor's Water Resilience Portfolio

In 2019, abandoning plans for a two-tunnel Delta Fix, California Governor Gavin Newsom directed state water agencies to provide recommendations for a more holistic portfolio approach to addressing the state's worsening water challenges. Despite the unprecedented difficulties faced this year, water remains a top priority for the Newsom administration. TPR excerpts here California Secretary for Natural Resources, Wade Crowfoot, who writes for California Water Magazine on the task of ensuring the state's lifegiving water resources are clean, affordable, and sustainably utilized. Secretary Crowfoot outlines  the Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.


Wade Crowfoot

“Water is central to nearly everything we value in California. Healthy communities, economies, farms, ecosystems and cultural traditions depend on steady supplies of safe water.” —Wade Crowfoot

Water is central to nearly everything we value in California. Healthy communities, economies, farms, ecosystems and cultural traditions depend on steady supplies of safe water. Those values are increasingly at risk as California confronts more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, overdrafted groundwater basins, aging infrastructure and other challenges magnified by climate change. For some of California’s most vulnerable populations, the risks are particularly acute – a reality magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and the critical need for clean and abundant water to reduce spread of the virus and protect public health. Recognizing the need for action, Governor Gavin Newsom last year directed state agencies to develop recommendations to meet these challenges and enable water security for all Californians. After two rounds of public input, the Governor on July 28 released a final Water Resilience Portfolio, the Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.

The portfolio is based on three principles. The first is that managing water in California is primarily the work of local water agencies, counties and cities. We know that water resilience will be achieved region by region based on the unique challenges and opportunity in each area. As the state government, we need to focus on enabling regional resilience while continuing to set statewide standards, enable projects of statewide scale and importance and tackle challenges beyond the scope of any region.

The second principle is that connections build strength. California water is a “system of systems.” It works best with well-placed, well-functioning connections, whether they are physical, digital or human. We need to maintain the physical connections of this system of systems, but also build better connections with information, data and shared practices.

The third principle is that preparation pays off. We know from the last drought that many urban water agencies, for example, did a lot of planning and diversification of their water supply within their regions and were therefore able to weather the drought more effectively than they would have otherwise. Through the portfolio, we aim to empower regional planning to prepare for what will be drier dries and wetter wets.

As we learned over the past year, the state’s playbook for managing water in coming decades must be broad and comprehensive. Accordingly, the portfolio includes 142 actions the state can take to help regions maintain and diversify water supplies, protect and enhance natural systems and prepare for a future that looks very different from our recent past. Many of the actions tie directly to the Administration’s efforts to carry out recent laws in areas such as safe and affordable drinking water, groundwater sustainability and water-use efficiency.

We recognize we cannot tackle all 142 separate actions in the document with equal vigor, given limited resources. With dramatically curtailed budget and bond resources, the portfolio is by necessity an aspirational document, but we can make progress on many of these actions —and the most important priorities within the portfolio. These priorities include:

  • Implementing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act of 2019
  • Supporting local communities to successfully implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014
  • Achieving voluntary agreements to increase flows and improve conditions for native fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watersheds
  • Modernizing the Delta water conveyance system to protect long-term functionality of the State Water Project
  • Updating regulations to expand water recycling
  • Accelerating permitting of new smart water storage
  • Expanding seasonal floodplains for fish and flood benefits
  • Improving conditions at the Salton Sea
  • Removing dams from the Klamath River
  • Better leveraging of information and data to improve water management

The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and California Department of Food and Agriculture released a draft version of the portfolio for public feedback in January 2020. Input from more than 200 separate individuals and organizations helped shape revisions, including the addition of 14 new actions. The revisions give greater emphasis to tribal interests and leadership, upper watershed health and cross-border water issues. With the portfolio, we’re working toward a future where all Californians have safe and clean drinking water. Our native fish populations recover. Reliable water helps tribal governments, rural communities, and agriculture thrive. Cities and towns grow while using water efficiently. We capture, use and share water supplies to weather droughts. Our communities are safe from floods. And we adapt together with strong science and collaboration. Learn more at www.waterresilience.ca.gov

 

 

 

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© 2020 The Planning Report | David Abel, Publisher, ABL, Inc.