Drought Raises Awareness of Water Value

  • by Dave Eggerton
  • Jun 25, 2021
  • Voices on Water

As news of the current drought’s severity travels across the state, anxiety over the actual or perceived threats to local supplies also opens an opportunity to bridge the information gap between our members and the public on issues that remain largely unknown and mostly taken for granted. This is especially true with our members’ continuous investments in preparing for limited supplies during times such as these.

Building greater resilience in anticipation of drought and other supply disruptions is a primary focus of the work of our members. It really is the beating heart of their ongoing water resource planning efforts and capital improvements to prepare for the future. Yet there is much work to do to communicate this reality to the public, not to mention state and federal decision makers. 

The fact that local water agencies, agricultural and urban, have led the way in advancing highly innovative projects and practices to increase resiliency and water use efficiency must be part of the discussion. It is incumbent on us as an association and for our members to share the many stories of this massive local investment. Moreover, we must do everything in our power to encourage our state and federal partners to join us in making the necessary investments in our aging water infrastructure.  

Much of this communication is already underway through ACWA’s advocacy at the state and federal levels. This includes engagement on developing the state budget currently before Gov. Gavin Newsom, where increasing funding for dam safety, conveyance improvements, conjunctive use efforts, and other critical infrastructure remains a top priority. At the federal level, our team is working hard to achieve legislation that invests comprehensively in western water infrastructure, while closely monitoring proposed budgets for the Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation, both of which include elements that promote climate resilience.

Like so many other issues we deal with each day, the bottom line for ACWA will be whether our partners at the state and federal levels empower local water management. To this end, I ask that each of our members utilize the conduits for information available through your ACWA regional representative and our webpage interface on drought to keep us informed. 

Let us know how the drought is affecting your agency and customers, as well as the investments your agency has made to prepare for such conditions.  This will not only enhance our collective effectiveness in the short term, but also in the long term.

Information and education will play an essential role in helping California through these present challenges. However, the job will not be done when the rains return. Continuing to grow Californians’ knowledge about where their water comes from, and what it takes to deliver reliable service, will be necessary to gain the understanding and commitment we need as a state to make the tough but necessary choices to prepare for the future.

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