As reported in the Sacramento Bee, the new water plan doesn’t have enough storage (note our post from last year about storage solutions) and whether it is true that a majority of Californians don’t want new dams, even those damming rivers and streams, the fact is we need it for water during dry years, and flood control during wet ones.
California officials on Thursday released a five-year “Water Action Plan” intended to avoid a statewide water supply crisis stemming from drought, population growth and climate change.
John Laird, secretary of the state Natural Resources Agency, acknowledged that the plan does not include a lot of new ideas. Rather, the goal is to integrate existing ideas about water supply and conservation and get disparate state agencies working together.
The plan is considered a draft, and is expected to be finalized in December following public comment.
“We have to focus on the whole picture,” Laird said. “What’s new is that it’s never existed in one place as a priority to look at together with everything we want to do in the state.”
As an example of that integration, the plan was unveiled jointly by Laird, state Environmental Protection Agency Secretary Matt Rodriguez and Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.
“What’s added here is a sense of urgency because we see there’s going to be even greater demand or pressures on our water resources,” Rodriguez said. “What we’re committing to here is a comprehensive or holistic look at water … and making a commitment to work collaboratively.”
The plan warns of an “impending water crisis” in California driven by a drought now in its second year, climate change and a state population expected to reach 50 million by 2049.
Solutions target 10 key actions, from making conservation a “way of life” for California residents to boosting surface and groundwater storage. It also emphasizes methods of making communities less reliant on imported water, as well as improving wildlife habitats to collect and store more stormwater runoff.
The storage question is controversial because most Californians don’t want to see streams dammed. But the state has been working on a number of new reservoir proposals for a decade, and feasibility studies are expected by about the end of this year. One is the proposed Sites Reservoir, an “off-stream” facility that would flood a rural valley with water diverted by a canal from the Sacramento River.