Newsom outlines sweeping strategy to bolster water supplies

With California suffering a historic drought amplified by global warming, Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday released a new plan to adapt to the state’s drier, hotter future by capturing and storing more water, recycling more wastewater, and desalinating seawater and salty groundwater.

The governor’s new water strategy, detailed in a 16-page document, lays out a series of actions to prepare the state to reduce California’s estimated water supply by 10 percent by 2040 due to higher temperature and reduced flow. The plan focuses on accelerating infrastructure projects, enhancing conservation, and upgrading the state’s water system to match the increasing rate of climate change, ensuring enough water for about eight years. ,4 million households.

Newsom calls it “an aggressive plan to rebuild the way we source, store, and deliver water so our children and grandchildren can continue to call California home in this hotter drier climate.” “.

Newsom is expected to talk about the plan Thursday morning in Antioch, where a desalination plant is being built to treat brackish water.

“The best science tells us that we need to act now to secure California’s water future. Climate change means that droughts won’t just last for two years at once as historically has happened,” Newsom said in a statement. “Drought is a regular fixture here in the American West, and California will adapt to this new reality.”

The plan calls for the expansion of above and below ground water storage capacity by 4 million acres; expanding the average groundwater recharge by 500,000 acres; accelerate wastewater recycling projects to reuse at least 800,000 acres of water by 2030; develop projects to capture more runoff during storms, and desalinate seawater and saline groundwater.

A 10% loss of the state’s water supply is expected within two decades, which is an average of 6 million to 9 million acres per year – more than the volume of Lake Shasta, the state’s largest reservoir, containing 4.5 million acres. .

The state’s plan refers to warmer temperatures due to increased greenhouse gas emissions leading to what many scientists describe as aridity. Warmer climates make the atmosphere “thirst,” which pulls more moisture from the landscape through evaporation and increases plant uptake, leaving less water to run off into rivers and streams.

“Regardless of drought or flood, in this changing climate there will be less water available for people to use,” the state plan says. “To match the pace of climate change, California must move smarter and faster to update our water systems. Modernizing our water system will help replenish the water that California will lose due to hotter drier weather.”

The plan said extreme dryness and high temperatures during the 2012-16 drought, followed by the current drought since 2020, “send a strong climate signal that we must idea”. It said these more extreme conditions make it clear that California should “double down” on a series of actions to boost the state’s water supply “quickly.”

State officials say implementing the strategy, which builds on the governor’s water resilience portfolio enacted in 2020, will require coordination with local agencies and tribes regional and federal.

The plan includes goals and timelines, such as expanding brackish groundwater desalination to 84,000 acres by 2040, and increasing the state’s stormwater harvesting capacity to 500,000 acres by 2040. In comparison, Los Angeles’ total annual water use is close to 500,000 acres.

Among other things, the state’s plan calls for the creation of a groundwater recharge coordination committee to help implement water capture and aquifer replenishment projects.

To offset increased evaporation and reduced supplies due to climate change, the plan says, “California must capture, recycle, desalinate, and save more water.” It said the new priority group would “use water that would otherwise be unusable, effectively extending supplies and expanding our capacity to store water from major storms for dry periods.” term”.

The plan says the approach is designed for a “weather-prone climate.”

https://www.latimes.com/environment/story/2022-08-11/newsom-outlines-sweeping-strategy-to-bolster-water-supplies Newsom outlines sweeping strategy to bolster water supplies

Edmund DeMarche

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