Yesterday in Antioch, Governor Gavin Newsom announced California’s latest actions to increase water supply and adapt to more extreme weather patterns caused by climate change.
The actions outlined in a strategy document published by the Administration called “California’s Water Supply Strategy, Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future” call for investing in new sources of water supply, accelerating projects, and modernizing how the state manages water through new technology.
This approach to California’s water supply management recognizes the latest science that indicates the American West is experiencing extreme, sustained drought conditions caused by hotter, drier weather. The warming climate means that a more significant share of California’s rain and snowfall will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants, and evaporated into the air — leaving less water to meet the state’s needs.
Hotter and drier weather conditions spurred by climate change could reduce California’s water supply by up to 10 percent by 2040. To replace and replenish what we will lose to thirstier soils, vegetation, and the atmosphere, Thursday’s announcement follows $8 billion in state investments over the last two years to help store, recycle, de-salt, and conserve the water it will need to keep up with the increasing pace of climate change. The goal is to generate enough water in the future for more than 8.4 million households by 2040.
“The best science tells us that we need to act now to adapt to California’s water future. Climate change means drought won’t just stick around for two years at a time like it historically has – extreme weather is the new normal here in the American West and California will adapt to this new reality,” Governor Newsom said at the Antioch Brackish Desalination Project. “California is launching an aggressive plan to rebuild the way we source, store and deliver water so our kids and grandkids can continue to call California home in this hotter, drier climate.”
To help make up for the water supplies California could lose over the next two decades, the strategy prioritizes actions to capture, recycle, de-salt, and conserve more water. These actions include:
- Creating storage space for up to 4 million acre-feet of water will allow us to capitalize on big storms when they do occur and store water for dry periods
- Recycling and reusing at least 800,000 acre-feet of water per year by 2030, enabling better and safer use of wastewater currently discharged to the ocean.
- Freeing up 500,000 acre-feet of water through more efficient water use and conservation, helping make up for water lost due to climate change.
- Making new water available for use by capturing stormwater and desalinating ocean water and salty water in groundwater basins, diversifying supplies, and making the most of high flows during storm events.
These actions are identified broadly in the Newsom Administration’s Water Resilience Portfolio – the state’s master plan for water released in 2020 – but they will be expedited given the urgency of climate-driven changes.
To advance the infrastructure and policies needed to adapt, the strategy enlists the help of the Legislature to streamline processes so projects can be planned, permitted, and built more quickly while protecting the environment.