California Water Crisis
California is knee deep in a water crisis based on climate change. Population growth will continually increase the demand for water. 75% of California’s water comes from the northern California Sierra Nevada snowpack. The Southern 2/3rds of California make up 80% of the state’s water use. Drought, flood, and fire are increasing due to climate change. Contamination of ground water in the Central Valley prevents impoverished communities from having access to clean, reliable drinking water, as does aging and unmaintained water infrastructure in urban areas impacted by poverty. Water diversion and drought are depleting rivers and streams, destroying native fish populations. Local special districts like NMWD need a comprehensive plan for water conservation, a plan that is actively shared with consumers and voters.
Here are some of the state and federal legislative responses to California’s Water Crisis
- Proposition 68 - Park, Environment, and Water Bond
In 2018, voters passed Proposition 68 which creates $4 billion dollars in general obligation bonds to pay for clean water, climate change preparedness, environmental protection and restoration, state and local parks, and water infrastructure.
- AB574 - Potable Reuse
Sacramento legislators and the governor passed a law that will allow cities throughout California to use treated wastewater in reservoirs.
- AB1668 and SB606 - Water Management Planning
In 2018, Sacramento passed legislation to make water conservation a way of life in California. This legislation establishes guidelines for efficient water use.
- Federal Legislation
California’s population has grown 70% in 40 years with drought representing one of the biggest dangers to California’s physical and economic well- being. In 2018, Congress is in the process of approving Federal funding for California's water storage projects. One proposal allows local districts to apply for low-interest EPA loans to build new reservoirs, below ground storage projects, as well as recycling and desalination projects.
Sacramento is the second most flood-prone major city in America. The federal government just approved $1.8 billion in federal money to strengthen levees, raise the Folsom Dam, and widen the Sacramento Weir.
Links to Useful Resources
California State Water Resources Control Board
Emergency Water Preparedness
California Water Science Center
California Department of Water Resources