For his water plan to work, Newsom must marshal all key forces

Guest Commentary: Edward Ring, CalMatters on September 03, 2022

At first glance, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new water supply strategy might suggest the projects he is proposing will create about 7 million acre-feet of new water, but a closer reading shows that’s not quite true. If every proposed storage facility is built, and the proposed water recycling and desalination projects are also eventually completed, Newsom’s water supply strategy will add about half that much. Even so, his plan is timely and much needed, but making it happen will require unprecedented compromises from California’s powerful environmentalist lobby.

Over the past decade, total water diversions for cities, farms and to maintain ecosystems totaled 75 million acre-feet per year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. Such diversions cannot continue at this volume without new water, because the worsening droughts have imperiled every major source — groundwater, water imported from the Colorado River, and water stored in reservoirs.

“So much of the water conversation in this state has been about conservation, a scarcity mindset,” Newsom said as he introduced the plan on Aug. 11. “That’s a relatively small component of the overall strategy we are introducing here today. Now, we are focusing on creating more water.”

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