Water in California is overallocated and overappropriated. Too much is promised, too much is delivered, and not enough is left in rivers and in the ground. The result is ecosystem collapse, sinking land and dry wells, and dying communities in diverse parts of the state.
The Governor directed in April 2019 that three of his cabinet secretaries create a California Water Resilience Portfolio. He directed that they start with an inventory and assessment of California’s present and future water supplies and demands. But the Draft Portfolio that the state issued on January 6, 2020 makes no basic accounting of California’s structural and systemic water debt. The Portfolio with no water budget presents a limited, confusing inventory and no assessment.
CSPA’s comments on the Draft Portfolio recount how the century-long effort to support unsustainable water use has fed a cycle of water supply projects that have created even greater demand. To create water resilience in California through the 21st Century, the state must bring its water demands into balance with its ability to meet them.
Adding a series of good projects to a portfolio founded on water debt does not balance or offset the fundamental structural problem of California’s overallocated and overappropriated water system. The Draft Portfolio proposes many actions that in and of themselves would be good things to do. But even as the state may do some of those good things, implementation of the Draft Portfolio will increase the systemic pressure to divert more water. In both the long and the short terms, that will defeat the broad goal to “protect and enhance natural systems.”
CSPA comments conclude:
A new draft version of the Water Resilience Portfolio should … perform an inventory and assessment of existing water supply and demand, including a sober analysis of how much water use the state’s resources can consistently support. It should base its projection of future supplies and demands on the premise that California must live within its hydrological means. It should base its planning on a water budget that California can afford.