The Time is Now for the California WaterFix

Gary Toebben

August 2, 2016

 

Last week, the State Water Resources Control Board began a series of hearings on the California WaterFix, the plan to update the state’s aging water infrastructure. Our Southern California region is highly dependent on this infrastructure, with one-third of our fresh water flowing from the Sierra Nevada Mountains through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

In total, 25 million people throughout the State depend on the Delta for their water supply. The Delta system operates with a series of half-century old levees, which are at risk from earthquakes and floods that would cause saltwater contamination, thereby decimating our clean water supplies. The current system is also inefficient, unable to fully capture and store water. Equally important, fixing the Delta will protect the environment and the unique ecology of the area by eliminating the reverse water flows that are harmful to water life and habitat. Combined with the Eco Restore plan, which outlines 12 environmental commitments, including the restoration of 30,000 acres of wetlands, tidal zones and floodplains, these two plans meet the State's co-equal goals of water reliability and protecting the Delta ecosystem.

That's why the Chamber has joined with a large coalition of business, labor, farmers, water agencies and cities to support the California WaterFix. We've urged our state lawmakers and local water agencies to support this vital project with letters, op-eds and public testimony.

After many years of extreme drought conditions, we got a little relief this year thanks to rain and snow in Northern California that helped to replenish the snow pack. However, we cannot risk using that as an excuse to take our eye off the ball and relegate a desperately needed fix till another day. In fact, despite the increase in precipitation in 2016, California lost 486,000 acre feet of water - enough for 3.6 million people for one year - since the beginning of the year because our aging infrastructure was unable to move the water.

The hearings that opened last Tuesday are expected to last six months. The Chamber will continue to work with the Governor Brown, the Obama Administration and a coalition of hundreds of organizations to secure our water supply for today, tomorrow and generations to come. To be part of the coalition in support of California WaterFix, please visit www.watersecurityca.com and sign up. 

And that's The Business Perspective.

 



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