Council Confronts Tough Options for Boosting Drought Resilience

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With California plunging deeper into drought, the Bay Area Council Water & Climate Resilience Committee met with Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot and Deputy Secretary of Water Resources Nancy Vogel about the State Water Board’s plan to bolster river ecosystems with water currently dedicated to serving 2.7 million Bay Area homes and businesses. The Bay Area Council has for years warned that the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan would undermine the Bay Area’s ability to meet state mandates to build 441,000 new homes over the upcoming decade and exacerbate the region’s housing and homelessness crises. The Council also met with representatives from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the Bay Area water agency most impacted by the Bay-Delta Plan. According to SFPUC, the Plan would double the likelihood the Bay Area will experience water shortages in any given year and require 40-50 percent rationing from current demand following multiple dry years such as those experienced as recently as 2012-2016.

The Council’s Water & Climate Resilience Committee is currently discussing options for protecting the region’s water supplies while improving ecosystems on the San Joaquin River and its tributaries. The Water & Climate Resilience Committee also heard presentations from Valley Water on opportunities to support expanded drought resilience projects via the state’s projected $30 billion budget surplus, or via the More Water Now initiative to dedicate 2% of the state’s general fund to water supply projects until those projects create an additional 5 million acre-feet of new water. These discussions come on the heels of a recent CalMatters oped by Council CEO Jim Wunderman calling for California to meet 25% of its urban water demand with drought-proof supplies by 2030. To engage with the Bay Area Council’s Water & Climate Resilience Committee, please contact Senior Vice President, Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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