California's water supply system needs immediate planning and billions of dollars in investment to meet security, supply and safe water concerns now and in the future, the California Rebuild America Coalition (CalRAC) and Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) said.
CalRAC and ACWA jointly called on Congress and the state Legislature to take positive steps to meet California's immediate and long-term water needs. CalRAC and ACWA announced several recommendations they say are essential to sound water policy in California.
-- Congress must reauthorize the CALFED Bay-Delta Program, which it failed to do last year. Congressional legislation to re-authorize and fund CALFED is expected to be introduced soon by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Riverside) and should be approved. CALFED is a joint state-federal water program designed to improve water supply reliability and restore ecosystems in the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
-- The state Legislature should continued to allot money for CALFED through the state budget and provide legislative support to keep a balance between water supply and ecosystem concerns.
-- Investment is needed to modernize water monitoring and delivery systems that are the best line of defense against terrorist attacks and natural contamination. Security of water systems, including dams, reservoirs and aqueducts also must be increased for the public's protection.
-- Long-term funding strategies including consistent and dedicated funding must be developed to address water supply infrastructure needs. Although recent bond measures have provided funding for some water programs, little or no funding from these sources is dedicated to the development of statewide water infrastructure such as surface reservoirs, groundwater storage and conveyance facilities.
CalRAC and ACWA noted that water infrastructure, including reservoirs and aqueducts, often take more than a decade to plan and build. Action must be taken now, ACWA Executive Director Steve Hall said, to meet demand in the future.
"We must act immediately to ensure that today's water supply is secure, and just as importantly, that we are prepared for emergent pollutants such as perchlorate," Hall said. "We also need to improve our ability to deliver the supply Californians need in the future. While recent bond measures have helped fund local and regional water projects, the state's critical water infrastructure system is still woefully inadequate."
Hall said decades of underinvestment means much of California's water supply infrastructure is aging and that the present system cannot meet the water demands of the estimated 50 million people who will live in California in 2020. Water storage capacity has not increased significantly since the early 1970s -- when California's population was 20 million people, compared to today's 35 million -- and recent reductions in California's allotment of Colorado River water will limit supplies even further.
The state Department of Water Resources estimates that demand for water in California could exceed annual supplies by 2.4 million to 6.2 million acre-feet by 2020, depending on the amount of rainfall in any particular year.
"California's most vital water supply systems were built between 40 and 60 years ago, and they cannot continue to function without upgrades and investment," said William Hauck, president of the California Business Roundtable. "The lack of supply and storage capacity needed to meet the state's growing population threatens the state's economy. Without an adequate water supply, communities and the businesses that support them simply can't grow."
"California's water demographics are changing, and our supply system needs to be upgraded to reflect the new California," CalRAC Executive Vice President Sarah Layton Wallace said. "California has added over 6 million residents since 1990 but only two regional water storage facilities. Additionally, the fastest growing areas of the state are now the drier, inland regions that demand more water but lack adequate supplies."