ACWA Report Puts Drought Impacts, Vulnerabilities in Vivid Focus

Though the full story of the 2014 drought continues to be written, it’s already clear that impacts are being felt across almost all sectors of California. It is also clear that we are in store for much more severe impacts if 2015 is another dry year.

ACWA helped daylight some of those impacts and possible solutions today with release of a report by our statewide Drought Action Group. The report, “2014 Drought: Impacts and Strategies for Resilience,” offers a unique, on-the-ground perspective on impacts around the state this year and areas of concern for 2015 beyond.

The Drought Action Group, empaneled by our Board of Directors at my request in January, included 40 water agency experts from among the ACWA membership who leveraged their collective knowledge to summarize impacts and compile an inventory of short-term and long-term strategies to improve the resiliency of state’s water system.

As the report notes, agriculture is facing significant impacts this year, with impacts ranging from idled acreage to reduce traffic at ports to loss of jobs in a variety of farm-related industries. The effects of drought also are being felt across the areas of wildfire protection, ecosystems and commercial industries and trade.

In addition to chronicling these effects, the report also offers several recommendations to local, state and federal leaders on projects and programs that will help our state survive this drought and future droughts.

I am immensely proud of this report and the people who pulled it together. As water managers on the frontlines of this drought, we have a duty to tell the story on the ground – the fields unplanted, the laborers idled, the ports quieted and the businesses closed – all due to drought.

We also have a duty to offers up suggested actions – some already in progress, other awaiting funding – that can help California endure this drought and survive the next.

So what is the upshot? The effects of drought are bad now, but they will be getting worse. Our system is vulnerable, and we must take action at both the local and state level to avoid even more dire consequence in 10, 15 or 20 years.

Here at ACWA, we’ll continue to push for a comprehensive, “all-of-the-above” approach to address our vulnerabilities and put California on the path to a more resilient water system.