Conservation is Critical During Drought, But Not The Only Solution

  • by Steve LaMar and Sean Bigley
  • Oct 29, 2021
  • Voices on Water

Gov. Gavin Newsom has extended the drought emergency statewide and called on all Californians to redouble their efforts to conserve water. His call to action is critical even with the storms that recently soaked California, because we know that a lot more rain and snow will be needed to lift the state out of the drought.

The Governor’s approach to statewide conservation is laudable, as well, because it continues to empower water managers with matching local water supply conditions with conservation, rather than relying on statewide mandates. While conservation is a critical tool for saving water during a drought, it is only one of many actions that must be taken to address drought. Investing in water infrastructure and the ability of local water managers to diversify supplies are also essential to building climate resilience throughout the state.

For example, members of the Regional Water Authority (RWA), which represents 19 water providers serving 2 million people in the Sacramento region, over the years have invested strategically in new pipelines, interties, pumps, and groundwater wells to move water where it’s needed. With state investment during the last drought, water providers in the Sacramento region implemented nearly 20 projects to increase water supply reliability. These projects allow the region to shift to groundwater and share water. This provides both local and statewide benefits by making groundwater available for local communities while leaving more surface water in our lakes and rivers to help the environment.

Conservation works hand-in-hand with these long-term investments, and the Sacramento area shows encouraging results. Early this summer, for example, the RWA began coordinating with its member agencies to launch a regional conservation campaign in both English and Spanish on television, radio, billboards, online and via partnerships with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, local nurseries and others. Early results show that the message was heard – the region had a 6 percent decrease in water use in August. This was in spite of a scorching hot summer when water use typically peaks in the Sacramento region.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and RWA take the drought and Gov. Newsom’s call to conserve water very seriously. We see first-hand the impacts of this severe drought on our local water resources and acutely understand that 2022 could be even more challenging should dry conditions persist. We are working collaboratively with the state on the Save Our Water campaign, which is now launching a broad-reaching informational program to communicate the value of conservation across California’s diverse population. This statewide campaign will augment local and regional communications efforts and amplify the message to all Californians about the importance of conservation during this critical time. It’s ultimately up to Californians to heed the call and change behaviors to meet the conservation goals.

As vital as water conservation is to weathering the current drought, we also know it is only one part of the puzzle. Building climate resiliency will take partnership, action and robust investment by local, regional, state and federal agencies. Most of the costs of resilience are borne at the local level. The state recently took a step in the right direction by approving $3.5 billion for water resilience as part of the 2020-21 budget. It will also take an unwavering focus by all agencies on a long-term vision for climate adaptation to meet the state’s 21st century water needs.

Steve LaMar is President of the Association of California Water Agencies, which represents more than 460 public water agencies in California, and a Director of the Irvine Ranch Water District in Southern California. Sean Bigley is chair of the Regional Water Authority and Assistant Environmental Utilities Director for the City of Roseville.

Suggested Resources

15 RESOURCES prev next
Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture, and Municipalities Act

To: The Honorable Dianne Feinstein Subject: Support for Introduction of the Support to Rehydrate the Environment, Agriculture, and Municipalities Act […]

Federal Regulatory Issues Chart

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Collecting Service Charges on the Property Tax Bill

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Allocations for Groundwater Cleanup and Water Recycling Projects in the Budget Act

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Proposed Plan to Utilize the Allocation from the Budget Act of 2021 for the […]

Water Infrastructure Polling Highlights

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

ACWA 2022 Spring Conference Attorney Programs

Presentations from the Attorney Programs held during ACWA’s 2022 Spring Conference & Exhibition May 3-4 in Sacramento are available below. […]

Regulatory Roundup

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Administrative Documents of a Regulation for the Hexavalent Chromium MCL

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: ACWA and CMUA Comment Letter regarding Administrative Documents of a Regulation for the Hexavalent […]

2021-’22 Water Resilience Funding Sheet

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Necessity of Protecting Water Systems from CERCLA Liability for PFAS

To: Dear Chairman Carper, Ranking Member Capito, Chairman DeFazio, Ranking Member Graves, Chairman Pallone, and Ranking Member McMorris Rodgers Subject: […]

April 2022 Public Health Goals Report Guidance

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

2021 Year in Review

Although the ongoing pandemic continued to create challenges in 2021, ACWA staff once again proved extraordinary dedication in advocating on […]

ACWA Releases Comprehensive Drought Messaging Toolkit

Sorry, but only ACWA members have permission to view this content. Member login is required.

Net Energy Metering

Agency: California Public Utilities Commission Subject: Association of California Water Agencies’ Comments on R.20-08-020- Order Instituting Rulemaking to Revisit Net Energy […]

Public Health Goal for Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water

Agency: State Water Resources Control Board Subject: Review of Public Health Goal for Hexavalent Chromium in Drinking Water Letter excerpt: The […]

Suggested News

15 Articles prev next
WVWD Funds Tap n’ Go Project – 32% Water Savings at Campus

DIAMOND BAR – In honor of Water Awareness Month, Walnut Valley Water District (WVWD) is supporting Diamond Bar High School […]

Governor Newsom’s Proposed Budget Includes Funding for Drought

Gov. Gavin Newsom today unveiled his revised state budget for the 2022-’23 Fiscal Year. The $300.7 billion budget includes several […]

Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior […]

High School Photo Contest Winners Highlight the Importance and Beauty of Water

CHULA VISTA – Twelve local high school students were honored for their award-winning photographs at the Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Board […]

Roseville Introduces Community Garden to Inspire Water Use Efficiency

ROSEVILLE – With nearly 60 percent of household water consumption occurring outdoors, educating customers on water-efficient landscapes is our top […]

Local Business Owner Named New PWD Board Director

PALMDALE – The Palmdale Water District (PWD) Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Scott Kellerman, co-owner of Antelope Valley […]

EMWD Celebrates Drinking Water Week with High-Quality Water Supplies

PERRIS — Eastern Municipal Water District (EMWD) is celebrating Drinking Water Week by celebrating its most vital service: Delivering safe […]

ACWA’s John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship Awarded to Kaitlyn Chow

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented its third annual John P. Fraser Water Leaders Fellowship […]

ACWA Presents Leadership Award to SBVWCD General Manager Daniel Cozad

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented its 2022 Excellence in Water Leadership Award to San […]

Sonoma County Water Agency Receives 2022 Excellence in Innovation Award

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented the first annual Excellence in Innovation Award to Sonoma […]

DWR Awards $150 Million in SGMA Implementation Funds

SACRAMENTO – In an effort to boost water supply reliability for millions of Californians, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) […]

ACWA Awards Scholarships to Four California College Students

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has awarded $22,000 in scholarships to four undergraduate students enrolled at […]

Alameda County Water District Receives Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award for Excellence

SACRAMENTO – The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) today presented the prestigious Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award for […]

MWDOC Public Affairs Manager and Local Artist Unveils Stella #13

This past April, a wave of illustrated, eight-foot-long baby gray whale statuettes, affectionately named “Stella,” flooded Orange County for the […]

EMWD Celebrates Water Awareness Month

PERRIS — With California facing historic drought conditions, there has never been a more important time to appreciate our water […]