The order directs the secretaries of the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to identify and assess a suite of complementary actions to ensure safe and resilient water supplies, flood protection and healthy waterways for the state’s communities, economy and environment. The portfolio will integrate and build on programs, policies and investments already in place to create a climate-resilient water system.
Why Do We Need a Resilience Portfolio?
California faces a range of water supply challenges, and there is no single fix that can meet our water needs, prepare us for climate change, and protect our natural environment. It will take a suite of complementary actions is needed to build water resilience, ensure healthy waterways and meet our needs through 2050 and beyond.
Five years of historic drought showed the importance of regional investments in a diverse water supply portfolio, including conservation, water recycling, groundwater storage and cleanup, and more. Pursuing a statewide portfolio of actions creates opportunities to build resilience, leverage past investments and meet multiple objectives.
While specifics will be defined over the coming months, likely elements include making the most of every drop through recycling and conservation, expanding stormwater capture and groundwater recharge to their full potential, modernizing water infrastructure — including in the Delta – to withstand climate pressures, and advancing multi-benefit projects such as floodplains that improve flood protection, enhance habitat and recharge groundwater basins. The Governor’s executive order emphasizes the need for innovation and new technologies, strengthened partnerships and regional approaches.
What Happens Next?
In coming weeks, the agencies will begin two important tasks: 1) soliciting public input and 2) inventorying and assessing California water resources, updated projections on climate change impacts, and current efforts by state and local agencies to safely and reliably provide water to California’s residents, ecosystems and economy. Read more about the inventory and assessment
The agencies expect to release a draft set of recommendations this fall and then submit final recommendations to Governor Newsom before the end of the year.
Why is Climate Change Part of the Discussion?
Climate change projections indicate a future characterized by both longer, more intense droughts and stronger, wetter precipitation events. Resiliency planning must incorporate a changing hydrology so that California can manage its water when plentiful and adapt to drought conditions that will inevitably return. For example, the latest science shows the Sierra Nevada snowpack – a key source of water for much of the state – will shrink in the coming decades. Additional storage – both above and below ground – will be needed to adapt to that change. Expanded stormwater capture, more flexible reservoir operations and better long-range forecasting tools will be critical to prepare for a more variable climate.
Will the Portfolio Address Safe Drinking Water?
The state’s goal is to ensure that all Californians have safe, clean, accessible, and affordable water. However, there are currently over 1 million Californians without access to safe drinking water. The Water Resilience Portfolio Initiative will include an inventory and assessment of existing tools to provide safe, accessible, and affordable water, such as local or regional consolidations, technical assistance, infrastructure funding, and efficiency measures. State agencies must also consider how future hydrology will affect supply reliability, and whether current approaches to extend local supplies such as conservation, recycling, or stormwater capture are sufficient for future population growth and environmental conditions.
Who Will Make Decisions about the Portfolio?
The Initiative is led by Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot, CalEPA Secretary Jared Blumenfeld and Secretary of Department of Food and Agriculture Karen Ross. Nancy Vogel
, Director of the Governor’s Water Portfolio Program, is managing the effort. Staff within the agencies and departments are helping to coordinate the effort. They anticipate releasing a draft set of recommendations for public review this fall and submitting final recommendations to the Governor for his consideration before 2020.
How Can the Public Get Involved?