As California heads into a possible fourth consecutive year of drought, a coalition of 15 environmental, fishing and public policy organizations released a set of recommended actions to modernize California’s water system and respond to the drought.
The drought has led to dramatic impacts on some cities and farms, as well as on the health of California’s rivers, wildlife and fisheries.
“Water shortages this year have been caused by the drought – not environmental protections,” said Mark Rockwell, a representative of the Endangered Species Coalition. “Federal legislation weakening environmental protections won’t make it rain. These practical recommendations show how Congress and federal agencies can help California meet water needs while restoring environmental health.”
To that end, the coalition today released "Wetter or Not – Actions to Ease the Current Drought and Prepare for the Next" (summary and full report available), a comprehensive set of recommendations for near-term action by local, state and federal agencies and lawmakers, many of which are designed to ensure that the funds in the recently approved water bond are spent efficiently and effectively.
“One of the lessons learned from Australia’s Millennium Drought is the need to take aggressive action early in a drought to reduce demand,” said Kate Poole of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We don’t have the luxury of waiting to act until we know if we’re in an extended drought. Water conservation, along with water recycling and storm water management, can develop millions of acre-feet of cost-effective new water supplies.”
The coalition’s recommendations call for action in a broad range of areas, including:
- Expanding drought-resistant water sources, such as water efficiency, water recycling and storm water management;
- Improving smart water storage;
- Investing in natural infrastructure and healthy ecosystems; and
- Spending public funds wisely.
The full list of endorsers for these drought recommendations include:
- Natural Resources Defense Council;
- The Bay Institute;
- Defenders of Wildlife;
- The Endangered Species Coalition;
- Audubon California;
- Surfrider Foundation;
- Golden Gate Salmon Assn.;
- Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Assns.;
- League of Women Voters of California;
- California Coastkeeper Alliance;
- Community Water Center;
- Clean Water Action;
- American Rivers;
- The Northcoast Environmental Center; and
- Friends of the River.
Source: Natural Resources Defense Council