This week, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) set an initial water allocation for our State Water Project at 15 percent for cities and farms. During the 2016-2017 water year the state allowed nearly 50 million acre-feet (16 trillion gallons) of water to run unimpeded into the Pacific Ocean.
The inability of California’s water managers to capture abundant water in very wet years like 2016-17 rests entirely in the state’s water managers’ hands and their past decisions. No water storage infrastructure has been built by the state in California since 1978, and it shows a lack of focus intertwined with a mule-like unwillingness to address and solve California’s long-standing water problems.
“It is pathetic and inexcusable that we recently celebrated the third anniversary of the Proposition 1 Water Bond’s passage without a single water storage projects being approved, yet watched helplessly as 16 trillion gallons of water washed away into the Pacific Ocean between October 2016 and today,” said Raul Riesgo, interim executive director, California Water Alliance (CalWA). “In a matter of five to six months California regulators were able to put together complete regulations for legalizing marijuana yet, over a period six times as long, they couldn’t approve a single water storage project as our state suffered through drought and began to recover.”
“After one of the wettest years in California’s history, DWR announced a water allocation for the 2018 calendar year of just 15 percent to most State Water Project contractors in cities and farm areas,” Riesgo said. “Those contractors serve over 26 million of the state’s 39 million residents in California.”
“Although the 2012-2016 drought is officially over, those residents stand perched on the brink of another regulatory drought that seemingly never ends,” Riesgo concluded.
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