Jan 27, 2014 5:11 PM
As the state endures one of its driest winters on record, the final California Water Action Plan was released today by the California Natural Resource Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The plan lays out goals for the next five years and aims to guide the state to enhance supply reliability, restore damaged or destroyed eco systems, and improve the state’s water infrastructure.
The plan was a combined effort by state agencies as well as input from nearly 100 members of the public and stakeholders.
“It is a tall order, but it is what we must do to get through this drought and prepare for the next,” said Gov. Jerry Brown in his 2014 State of the State address last Wednesday.
Currently, Gov. Brown has recommended $617 million in funding for water efficiency projects, wetland and watershed restoration, groundwater programs, conservation, flood control, and integrated water management projects in his proposed 2014-15 budget. Brown’s budget would also provide $472 million in Proposition 84 funding to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for integrated regional water management. Prop. 84 was passed by California voters in November 2006.
The funding is expected to help the DWR monitor groundwater resources which provide more than one-third of the state’s water supply in dry years. It also aims to support the creation of a state backdrop for sustainable groundwater management should efforts on the local levels falter.
“Together, the Governor’s proposed budget and this finalized plan provide the State with practical solutions to the state’s most critical problems; the proposals on groundwater are a good example,” said Cal/EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez. “Data collection and monitoring are crucial to sustainable management of our unseen but incredibly important aquifers.”
This year’s dry winter threatens to potentially force the fallowing of hundreds of thousands of acres of California farmland, undermining the agricultural economy and raising prices at the supermarket.
“Our severe dry conditions are alarming for California’s agricultural industry,” said California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross. “In the near term, we must do all we can to keep our fields productive. In the long term, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the investments that will allow us to stay productive in the face of a changing climate.”
The California Water Action Plan calls for 10 general plans which include; making conservation a way of life, increasing regional self-reliance and integrated water management across all levels of state government, achieve co-equal goals for the Sacramento Delta, restoring ecosystems, managing and preparing for dry periods, expanding water storage capacity and improving groundwater management, increasing flood protection, increasing operational and regulatory efficiency and identifying sustainable and integrated financing opportunities.