More than 100 days into his first term as governor, Gavin Newsom has laid out an ambitious agenda. A recent executive order set the stage for Newsom’s broader water policy, calling for his administration to prepare a “water resilience portfolio.”
Specifically, the Governor called for updating Governor Brown’s 2016 California Water Action Plan, including continued work towards voluntary settlement agreements for the Sacramento and San Joaquin river systems, a revamped Delta conveyance plan, as well as new water supplies from stormwater capture and recycling. Importantly, the order seeks stakeholder input, and integration across state government, among other items.
The current water year is a textbook example for why critical improvements to California’s water system are needed. Precipitation and snowpack are far above normal. All major reservoirs are at or near capacity. Despite this, Central Valley Project and State Water Project allocations for south of Delta contractors are at only 65 percent and 70 percent, respectively. If water users cannot get adequate supplies in a year like this, when can they? California’s water system is in dire need of repair and our water policies need to be updated based on the latest science.
It is encouraging to see Governor Newsom take a thoughtful approach to the complex water challenges facing the Golden State. Reaching voluntary settlement agreements for the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and modernizing California’s water infrastructure are of vital importance, and the details of how these two related efforts are implemented is crucial. Actions to address habitat restoration, invasive species, and predation must also be prioritized.
Governor Newsom’s executive order is a strong indication that he recognizes the importance of a reliable water supply for California. We look forward to further details on his vision for California’s water system and participating in the process to help shape a water plan worthy of the fifth largest economy in the world. Our environment and quality of life depends on it.