Water Is Essential This Year and Next
By: Charley Wilson, Executive Director, Southern California Water Coalition
We’re almost at the finish line. As many of you know, this Friday marks the end of the legislative cycle, the last day to pass bills before they head to the Governor’s desk. (Cheers from the crowd!) And, my golly, has it been a jam-packed year. Our work is never done – and it has never been more important than it is right now.
As the region’s leading voice on the state’s most pressing water issues — from sustainability and supply to water quality and infrastructure – we’re on the front lines of change for Southern California’s water future. We’re driving conversation, advocating for solutions and always looking ahead at what’s next. With members spanning from San Diego County all the way up to Kern County, crossing sectors like business, agriculture, government and of course, water, we provide a representative, balanced and non-partisan voice to the issues impacting our daily lives and economic vitality.
California’s water landscape is constantly shifting, dependent on supply, weather patterns and scientific findings, to name a few. It’s like trying to hit a moving, ever evolving target. And through information based, thoughtful discussion, we get a little closer to the bullseye each year. SCWC hosts four events a year centered around the idea of sharing data, historical context, community perspective, political insights and plain and simple: what’s the latest in California water. This year, we brought together the best and brightest minds on issues like the Salton Sea and the future of stormwater capture — unpacking the realities and road blocks and charting a path forward.
As an organization, we don’t just use our voice to talk amongst each other, we work to amplify the consensus. With nearly one million Californians threatened by contaminated drinking water, SCWC amplified a solution: AB 2050. The Small System Water Authority Act of 2018, AB 2050, uses already existing infrastructure to help correct failing water systems through consolidation. Recognizing a funding gap for drought preparation and public environmental programs, SCWC rallied behind a solution: Proposition 68. The $4.1 billion bond was approved by voters this June and will provide resources for local supply projects, groundwater cleanup and climate change adaptation.
So, what’s next? SCWC has a melting pot of issues from the ballot box to the legislative floor that we’re eager to discuss, drive and engage in. This November, voters will decide on another water bond, Proposition 3, the Water Supply and Water Quality Act of 2018. Prop 3 is an $8.9 billion bond that will provide the necessary funding for our state’s water infrastructure—a critical and dire investment to maintain safe and reliable water supplies. Until election day, SCWC will be sharing the facts and educating stakeholders on the value of a ‘Yes’ vote on Proposition 3. Meanwhile, in the Capitol, a fight is brewing over the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed amendments to flow mandates in the Lower San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. SCWC is in the ring, articulating the risks and strongly opposing these amendments that will decrease water supplies for cities, schools and agricultural groups in the region.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s California WaterFix —the $17 billion twin-tunnels project that will modernize California’s antiquated water delivery system. Last year, SCWC launched WaterNext, an education and outreach campaign in support of California WaterFix. The education and engagement outreach campaign is still going strong and has the backing of a coalition comprised of more than 300 supporters representing vastly diverse and prominent interests, from labor and business to public agencies, nonprofits and agriculture. WaterFix will upgrade our aging water delivery system, securing a safe and reliable water supply for the region. It’s the best and most affordable solution for ensuring our state’s backbone supply of water to 26 million Californians. And the project continues to gain momentum on the path to construction.
As an organization, everything we do boils down to the fact that water is essential. In California, while our weather extremes may be volatile, our need for water is static. So as SCWC looks ahead we can say for certain: water is essential this year, next year and forevermore. Meantime, we’ll keep you informed and engaged on all of the water issues that matter most to California now and in the future.