Critical Role of Infrastructure Emphasized in ACWA Communication Efforts on Drought

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Apr 15, 2022
  • Voices on Water

The extreme challenges of another very dry year have brought into sharp focus an obvious solution: A comprehensive approach to drought that emphasizes continued investments in water infrastructure matched with conservation as a critical, but not exclusive, response. 

In many ways, we are seeing encouraging progress toward that end. 

State and federal infrastructure funding authorized last year is historic and will make a difference. It represents a positive step away from leaving local agencies with almost the entire financial responsibility for stewardship over our state’s aging water systems. However, it must be understood by our partners in Sacramento and Washington D.C. as the beginning, not the end, of a sustained investment in long-term climate resiliency.

I believe ACWA’s collaborative advocacy work is steadily making that need clear to policy makers and elected officials. Now they need to hear it from Californians. This is why ACWA will soon launch a statewide public education campaign on the critical need to increase investments in water infrastructure as a path to climate resiliency. 

We’ve been here before, through water bond campaigns and any number of previous outreach efforts. It wasn’t easy then, nor will it be this time. In one respect, we are up against our own success in reliably delivering water no matter what the odds. Many Californians labor under the illusion that despite what they hear or read, water will always keep flowing through their spigot. While it must for the health and well-being of the people of the state, Californians must understand that the job of keeping that water flowing is far different and much tougher as we advance further into an age of unprecedented climate change.

As always, ACWA members will play a vital role in communicating the need for infrastructure investment. Besides the upcoming campaign launch, a new Spring Drought Toolkit for our member agencies includes tools and resources that help communities save water while also encouraging the state to continue to take a comprehensive approach to drought that results in both short and long-term resilience.

We encourage members to utilize the toolkit and an op-ed template to reach out to their communities and news media. These tools can work in conjunction with a new toolkit from the Department of Water Resources’ Save Our Water campaign, which communicates the importance of saving water outdoors by sharing tips and information on mulch, drip irrigation, leaks and the importance of trees. The campaign is also ramping up for the warm months with more videos, radio ads, billboards and a presence at several county fairs and other large events.

A comprehensive approach to drought response that recognizes local water supply conditions must include essential investments in existing and new infrastructure by all parties: federal, state and local. Conservation is vital, but cannot work alone. The success of our efforts communicate this fact will, in large part, determine our ability to ensure a reliable and safe supply of water for our communities, the environment and local economies.

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