Water, water everywhere – maybe not

150 150 Ed Coghlan

Folsom Dam (Photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Most of us Californians simply don’t pay much attention to the issue of water. We take water for granted. When we turn on our taps, water comes out.

End of story.

Well, not quite.

It is true that we take water for granted. 78 percent of Californians aren’t aware of the Delta, even though it provides drinking water for 25 million residents.

There’s no guarantee that when we turn on our taps that it will always be there. The first California Economic Summit understands that. As a result, part of its report that will be issued on June 30 will concentrate on how we can modernize California’s water system.

Sunne McPeak and Peter Weber are driving that initiative. McPeak is the former chair of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and current chair of the Delta Vision Foundation. Weber is a retired corporate executive who now dedicates his time to community and economic development activities in the San Joaquin Valley.

While regions often argue with each other over water supply, Weber understands this is a state problem requiring a solution that addresses the needs of every region. He adds that a comprehensive solution must address the needs of residential, environmental, agricultural and industry users  In 2009 the legislature approved the development of a comprehensive, integrated water infrastructure plan to achieve the “co-equal goals” of Delta System Restoration and Water Supply Reliability, as proposed by the Delta Vision Task Force. 

The plan envisions a mixture of surface storage (dams and reservoirs), better use of groundwater banking, improved conveyance to move water to where it is needed, and conservation. Plan development and implementation has been slow.

California is a drought state that doesn’t have enough storage capacity and needs to improve how we deliver it.

“If we can do a better job of storing water during the wet years, like the one we had in 2010-2011, and continue the trend of being good conservers of water,  then drier years like the one we endured this past year can be tolerated easier,” said Weber, who is also a member of the Leadership Council for  California Forward.

To make Weber’s point, water conservation was in the news after a heat wave hit Sacramento earlier in June. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, County Supervisors are considering asking property owners to increase their taxes to help ensure water quality.

We will be doing more reporting on the water issue in California after the Summit issues its report at the end of June.

Water is big business in California. There are hundreds of water agencies in the state who are elected or appointed to watch over this valuable resource. When’s the last time you attended one of their meetings.

When it comes to water, do you think you know enough? 


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan