Experts recommend a change in California water policy
Authors of a newly published water policy book say a new approach is needed to manage California’s aquatic ecosystems, according to a Public Policy Institute of California news release about the publication.
Recommendations include moving away from the current strategy, which aims to save one species at a time under the federal and state Endangered Species Acts. Instead, a broader approach would create better conditions for many species and address the multiple causes of ecosystem decline.
Wide-ranging water policy reforms are detailed in Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation, an in-depth look at the state’s water management challenges. The authors include Richard Howitt, professor and chair of agricultural and resource economics at UC Davis, Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis, and Peter Moyle, associate director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.
The authors say that today’s system of water management, developed in previous times for past conditions, is leading the state down a path of environmental and economic deterioration.
"We’re waiting for the next drought, flood, or lawsuit to bring catastrophe,” the news release quotes co-author Ellen Hanak, senior fellow at PPIC. "But if we take bold steps now, we can move from an era of conflict to one of reconciliation, where water is managed more flexibly and comprehensively, to benefit both the economy and the environment.”
The publication makes water policy recommendations involving:
- Urban conservation
- Goundwater banking
- Water transfers
- Pollution management
- Flood management
The report's suggestions were not met with unanimous support. The Association of California Water Agencies issued a statement yesterday complimenting the authors for bringing attention to the issue, but adding that the report contains "plenty to agree with and plenty to debate."
Release of the report was widely covered by the news media, including:
- Report on state water seeks balance - Modesto Bee
- PPIC takes a crack at California's water stalemate - Sacramento Bee
- Smelt may pay price for healthy estuary - Inside Bay Area
- As $11B water bond looms, book recommends sweeping reform - California Watch
The 503-page PPIC water report.