Geoff Vanden Heuvel
Director of Regulatory and Economic Affairs
As regular readers of this newsletter know, Milk Producers Council was a strong supporter of the More Water Now initiative effort conducted late last year. This citizen initiative sought to place on the ballot a California constitutional amendment that would dedicate 2% of the state’s general fund every year to finance water supply projects. The goal of the initiative was to create water abundance in California by advancing an “all of the above” strategy, including water recycling, increased water storage, both above ground and below ground, improved conveyance, ocean and brackish water desalination, in addition to continuing water conservation efforts. Not only did the initiative include funding for projects, it also included provisions to streamline permitting to enable these projects to actually get built. The effort to get 1 million signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot was not successful, but Edward Ring, the main organizer of the effort, published a book on the experience entitled “The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California.”
Yesterday, Governor Newsom held a press conference in Antioch, California at the construction site of a desalination plant to outline a new plan to invest in increased water supply for California. The Governor pointed out that so much of our conversation about water has been from a water conservation mindset and that needs to change, “moving away from a scarcity mindset to one more of abundance.” He pointed out that increasing urban water recycling and desalinization will reduce demand on the traditional conveyance projects in the state, which leaves more water available for agriculture.
The new plan aims to create storage space for up to 4 million acre-feet of water allowing the capture of big storms when they occur and store that water for use in dry periods. Also in the plan is the goal of creating 800,000 acre-feet of annual recycled water for reuse and significantly enhancing stormwater capture and desalinization projects. Another big part of the plan is to streamline permitting processes for building water infrastructure.
The Governor said, “The time to get these damn projects is ridiculous; it's absurd; it’s reasonably comedic. And in so many ways, the world we invented from an environmental perspective is now getting in the way of moving these projects forward.”
Governor Newsom said all the right things yesterday. Of course, those are just words, will he follow through? Will we help him? Time will tell, but water abundance for this great state is a goal worth getting behind.