Governor Addresses ACWA Spring Conference Attendees

  • by ACWA Staff
  • May 13, 2024
  • Water News

During a surprise appearance at the 2024 ACWA Spring Conference & Expo in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed climate change adaptation while expressing strong support for local control of water resources.

Newsom joins a long list of California governors who have spoken at ACWA conferences throughout the association’s history, including past Gov. Jerry Brown. Gov. Newsom’s address highlighted several areas of interest to ACWA member agencies. Water has remained a leading issue during Newsom’s second term in office, and he made that abundantly clear during his 15-minute address.

California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot introduced Newsom during Crowfoot’s May 8 keynote speech, which also focused on the critical role of California water management in an era defined by climate extremes.

After receiving a standing ovation, Newsom opened his address by noting dramatic swings between record-breaking climatic shifts and how his administration has responded by giving local water agencies flexibility in taking action, one of several points applauded by conference attendees.

“You are the experts, you understand it intimately,” Newsom said, stating his support for “a framework of bottom up, not top down — localism to be determinative as it relates to managing our water policy in the state of California.”

He acknowledged ACWA member agencies’ work on stormwater capture, water recycling and groundwater replenishment, all while facing challenges with conveyance, above- and below- ground storage and implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Newsom emphasized his support for the Delta Conveyance Project as key to climate adaptation and also stressed his administration’s continued work on permitting reform, touching on the process behind building Sites Reservoir as an example.

“If you can’t build an off-stream storage facility, my gosh, how do we do things better, how do we move things in a more efficient and effective manner? How do we get out of our own way?” he said.

Newsom cited “tremendous progress” made on advancing the Agreements to Support Healthy Rivers and Landscapes, by praising work toward the agreements’ creation of greater habitat restoration and more flexibility in water management in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta.

Making a point he’s repeated throughout his term, Newsom called for moving beyond “binaries” and relentless litigation as a feature in California water policy.

“The courts can’t be the determining factor. Weeks become months, years, decades,” Newsom said.

Newsom closed his address by underscoring his support for local water management.

“Each and every one of you have unique challenges, a unique set of opportunities, and one size yes, and by definition, doesn’t fit all,” Newsom said, adding “You need that flexibility, and we need to partner with you, with an understanding of the regional characteristics and dynamics that you confront every single day.”

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