SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom July 28, released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio. The portfolio is the Administration’s blueprint for equipping California to cope with more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, over-reliance on groundwater and other challenges.
The portfolio outlines 142 state actions to build a climate-resilient water system which tie directly to Administration efforts to carry out recent laws regarding safe and affordable drinking water, groundwater sustainability and water-use efficiency. They also prioritize securing voluntary agreements in key watersheds to improve flows and conditions for fish, address air quality and habitat challenges around the Salton Sea and protect the long-term functionality of the State Water Project and other conveyance infrastructure.
The California Natural Resources Agency, California Environmental Protection Agency, and California Department of Food and Agriculture solicited extensive public input to prepare the portfolio in response to an April 2019 Executive Order (N-10-19).
The agencies released a draft version of the portfolio for public feedback in January 2020. Input from more than 200 separate individuals and organizations helped shape revisions, including the addition of 14 new actions. The revisions give greater emphasis to tribal interests and leadership, upper watershed health and cross-border water issues.
The portfolio recognizes the role of healthy soils in building resilience, including efforts that promote using working lands to sequester carbon, store water and prevent pollution.
Given the drastic downturn in the state’s budget, the final version acknowledges that the pace of progress on the actions in the portfolio will depend upon the resources available. The portfolio is a comprehensive, aspirational document, but there are several priorities the state will focus on.
These priorities include:
- Implementing the Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act of 2019
- Supporting local communities to successfully implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014
- Achieving voluntary agreements to increase flows and improve conditions for native fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and its watersheds
- Modernizing the Delta water conveyance system to protect long-term functionality of the State Water Project
- Updating regulations to expand water recycling
- Accelerating permitting of new smart water storage
- Expanding seasonal floodplains for fish and flood benefits
- Improving conditions at the Salton Sea
- Removing dams from the Klamath River
- Better leveraging of information and data to improve water management
State agencies intend to track and share progress on portfolio implementation with an annual report and stakeholder gathering.