The CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released its Final 2018 Update to the California Water Plan, highlighting a vision for greater collaboration and alignment among water sectors and institutions. The updated plan also details solid strategies and long-term investments needed for the sustainable management of California’s water supply for the benefit of the economy, the environment and public health.
The California Water Plan is the state’s comprehensive strategic plan for managing and developing water resources sustainably. As required by state law, DWR must update the Water Plan every five years—taking stock of current water management efforts and incorporating the latest information and science to help orient future work.
Since the last Water Plan Update in 2013, California has faced the escalating impacts of a changing climate—from a devastating multi-year drought and historic wildfires to rising sea levels and widespread flooding. In recognizing the need to adapt to these challenges, collaborative and coordinated statewide water management has grown more critical for all regions of the state, reports the DWR.
DWR Director Karla Nemeth summed up the need to recognize and adapt to these challenges: “We are now living in a new climate reality and we know we must respond. Our goals are clear—to face our critical, institutional, and systemic challenges head-on and build a more sustainable future.” Director Nemeth has previously stated that, “the consequences of inaction will be too severe.”
The plan’s broad and diverse portfolio of recommended actions address California’s critical, systemic, and institutional challenges. Water Plan Update 2018 recommends 19 priority actions to: strengthen infrastructure resiliency; improve integrated watershed management; address regulatory challenges; restore ecosystem functions; empower under-represented communities; improve inter-agency alignment; and support decision-making, adaptive management, and long-term planning.
Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot stressed the importance of Water Plan 2018 and the recent plans within Governor Newsom’s administration to build upon and compliment each other. “Update 2018 plays an important role in informing our work in the Newsom Administration to build this water resilience strategy,” said Crowfoot.
The Newsom Administration’s broader effort to develop a suite of priorities and actions to build a climate-resilient water system prioritizes multi-benefit and watershed-scale approaches, utilizes natural infrastructure such as floodplains and aquifers, and strengthens partnerships.