Thirsty for More
The effects of our changing climate are all around us. Weather patterns are becoming more extreme, unpredictable and impactful at a rate faster than ever before.
California’s water infrastructure was not originally built to maximize and sustain our cities, farms and environment through the intense boom-and-bust drought patterns brought on by climate change. It’s been nearly 100 years since California’s water infrastructure was equipped to meet the entire state’s water needs. This is a challenge that has a tangible, shovel-ready solution.
Water infrastructure projects are happening all around us. The term “water infrastructure” includes pipes, dams, pumps, reservoirs, treatment plants, aqueducts, storage, recycling facilities and more. Unlike fixing a pothole or building a bridge, much of our water infrastructure projects are underground or otherwise out of sight. However, the impacts of water infrastructure are more tangible and fundamental to our everyday lives than the roads we drive. It is because of these projects that we have food to eat, an inhabitable environment and access to a reliable stream of clean drinking water at the turn of a tap.
Though water infrastructure may be out of sight, it is not out of mind: 90% of Californians agree that investments in water infrastructure are vital to the overall health and wellbeing of our communities.
Imagine a day without access to clean drinking water. Though it may seem like a far-off, draconian concept, it is a very real possibility, and it has happened during prior California droughts. Taps literally ran dry or were shut off during certain times of the day. Thousands lost their jobs. Farmers lost huge swaths of agricultural crops, driving shortages and increasing prices at local grocery stores. Forests died off, wildlife contracted diseases at alarming rates and wildfire season lasted year-round.
What we’ve learned from our current and prior water supply challenges is that investments in water infrastructure are how we prepare for what’s ahead – and ensure that our children will never have to go a day without water.
a Team Sport
Californians have been hard at work reducing their water use to help limit the impacts of the drought. This work to conserve is invaluable, but it hasn’t been happening in a vacuum: water managers have been doing their part too. For decades, California’s water leaders and public water agencies have been investing in water infrastructure, launching new local supply projects, encouraging ratepayers to conserve and leading environmental restoration projects. It is because of these investments and our shared commitment to protecting California’s water that we’ve been able to weather the more recent drought periods.
Need for State & Federal Partnerships
Local water agencies have prioritized investments in water infrastructure for years and have made great progress toward building a more drought-ready California. Because of these investments in water infrastructure, Californians continue to have access to water during severe drought – but our state and local water systems remain incomplete.
To meet California’s water needs, necessary water infrastructure projects will be both expensive and expansive. Local water agencies and their customers can’t do it alone, which is why we will need both state and federal support to help us get to where we need to go.
The climate crisis is reaching a pivotal moment that we must face head on. Proactively investing in necessary water infrastructure will provide a reliable water supply that current and future generations can rely on.
We need to take direct, concerted action to quench California’s human, economic and environmental water needs today and tomorrow.
Stay informed about the water infrastructure projects happening in your community.
© Association of California Water Agencies.