Environmental groups offer drought solutions
November 17, 2014
• Say action needed now to avoid calamity
• “All would also set the stage for a more reliable long-term water supply”
Fifteen environmental or good government groups are urging swift action on a list of ways to deal with years of drought in California – instead of waiting until the problem becomes a full-blown mega-crisis.
California is in the third year of a severe drought, and, based on current predictions for a weak El Nino winter, could well see a fourth year.
While California’s climate is characterized by extreme variability alternating between prolonged droughts and major floods, a situation that is predicted to worsen as climate change progresses, the state fails to manage finite water resources to prepare for increasing exposure to more severe and prolonged droughts, the groups say.
“There are many actions that can be taken to reduce the vulnerability of California’s water supplies, economy, and environment to future droughts,” they say.
But it will demand action by state, federal and local agencies and lawmakers “to help California respond to the current drought and improve preparedness for future extended droughts.”
The California Water Action Plan establishes a broad framework for action, and the Legislature recently enacted historic legislation to manage California’s groundwater, the report says. Building on that, the groups offer specific, near-term actions at the state, federal, and local levels that respond to the drought.
“All would also set the stage for a more reliable long-term water supply, a more resilient economy, and a healthier environment,” they say.
The suggestions include urban and agricultural efficiency, reuse, and stormwater capture, which the report says “have the potential to produce up to 14 million acre-feet of new supply and reduced demand on the state’s rivers and groundwater.”
“Together, the potential water supplies from these tools dwarf other potential water sources, including taking more water from the Bay-Delta,” they say.