California is in the middle of a historic water supply crisis never seen before, impacting the economy, every region across the state, jobs, critical industries, food security, and all Californians. As the State responds to manage this current drought, the perpetual and systemic water crisis continues to grow, with no relief or remedy in sight, for the near term or future.
Water agencies are sounding the alarm, calling on the state to take action in response to the years of drought conditions, the repeated imposition of emergency regulations and water restrictions to reduce consumption, and the lack of progress on water infrastructure investment. The time is now to imagine and create water infrastructure aligned with the new climate reality of significantly reduced snowpack and increased precipitation volatility.
Changing and worsening climate conditions coupled with a population that has doubled since the development of California’s current water system requires extraordinary investment in new water supplies for today and the future generations of Californians. Yet the State is still using the same water supply approach to meet the needs of 40 million residents, with the same constrained infrastructure and increasing regulatory limitations.
“As the State repeatedly calls for more conservation to get through the current drought, reactionary solutions to the current drought are not an acceptable or adequate policy response. There is a lack of acknowledgment on the larger and long-term picture – we are in a generational water supply crisis that is far more than just this drought and we need California policymakers to take immediate action,” said Heather Dyer, General Manager of San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and a leader in Solve the Water Crisis.
“The consequences of inaction are ongoing and will be catastrophic for the future of California and are already being felt today. We need immediate and bold State action to fundamentally change how statewide water is managed. As water managers, we know it will take big new water solutions capable of increasing water supplies in the statewide system, as well as investments in local and regional improvements to address our new climate reality that has devastated existing water supplies,” said Paul Helliker, General Manager of San Juan Water District, and a leader in Solve the Water Crisis.
Perpetuating the lack of progress on collaborative and creative solutions to build and rehabilitate statewide water facilities will be catastrophic. Impacts are already prevalent statewide, and will become more significant across the board, resulting in:
- Job losses, particularly in the ag industry
- Decline in business confidence and reduced investment in California
- New housing development stalled
- Food security jeopardized Increased water costs
- Increased stress on ecosystems and habitats
- Impacts on statewide energy supplies
- Decrease in statewide tourism
- Decline in recreational activities
California has a responsibility to address the ongoing water supply crisis. Policy solutions must be advanced to meet the State’s present and future water supply needs for all Californians, today and tomorrow.