Another long dry hot year, fraught with water shortages and controversy is how 2015 played out. It was another year of hardship. For the first time since the 1976–1977 drought, senior water rights holders’ supplies were cut off. For the first time mandatory conservation measures were imposed on all water users. It was also the first time in 75 years that there was no snow on the ground to measure at the Phillips snow course in April. It was also the hottest year on record with most of California in extreme drought status.
An El Niño system sitting out in the tropical Pacific Ocean is likely to bring a normal to wet winter. If that system proves to be as large as some climatologists believe, it will help soften the effects of the prolonged drought, but not cure it. Breaking the drought will take a series of wet years and mild to normal summers.
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the California Department of Water Resources have partnered to develop and carry out the Save Our Water program. A “Words to Save By” blog was added in 2012.
Encourage responsible water quality goals and water development policies to meet the increasing demand for reliable water supplies.
The CalChamber supports a comprehensive solution to California’s chronic water shortage. It is vitally important that all Californians have an adequate and reliable source of water while safeguarding the environment. Developing additional water supplies and conveyance facilities can no longer be postponed without subjecting the state to long-term economic damage. One serious earthquake or a series of Delta levee failures could leave millions of people and businesses without a water supply for the foreseeable future.
Every means of providing more water should be vigorously pursued. Preparedness through diversification is the path to a comprehensive solution to California’s water future.
Improving Management of California Water Supply
- Supported follow-up legislation in 2015 to the landmark 2014 groundwater management law to improve judicial proceedings in comprehensive adjudications of groundwater rights without changing the law or existing water rights.
- In 2015, stopped misguided proposals to increase the excise tax on water use, publicize a business’ water and energy use and require labeling of agricultural products irrigated with cleaned wastewater from oil fields (SB 789, AB 1520, ABX2 14).
Investing in Water Supply Reliability
- Supported voter-approved Proposition 1 in 2014, providing funding for needed water storage projects, enabling the state to save in wet years for the inevitable droughts.
- Preserved ability for voters to consider a legislative and bond package putting the state on a pathway to long-term water supply reliability and ensuring a safe drinking water supply (AB 1265). Instrumental in developing that package in 2009 (SBX7 1, SBX7 2, SBX7 6, SBX7 7, SBX7 8).
Position: The California Chamber of Commerce supports a balanced approach to securing a safe and reliable supply and conveyance of water for all businesses and residents of California. Desalination, like recycling, water reuse, water use efficiency, conservation, conveyance and new storage, should be pursued to help increase water supply. Permit streamlining among the various agencies should be undertaken to expedite the approval process.
Desalination is a viable option for the state’s future water supply picture. In order to meet its water supply challenges, California needs to pursue desalination where appropriate and feasible. Desalination will provide an invaluable addition to a well-balanced local or regional water portfolio with a reliable drought-proof component.
The CalChamber will support any legislation streamlining the permit process for establishing the sites of desalination projects.
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