The plan is the most comprehensive guide to managing water and involves dozens of state, federal and local agencies. A key part of the plan is integrating management across jurisdictions. Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources, says it sets out no new water policies, but improves and expands existing ones. It also looks at management through the lens of a growing population and climate change.
“It’s not a matter of not enough water in California but the need to invest in better management of those supplies,” says Cowin. “We can accommodate a growing population but we can only do so through intelligent planning and investment.”
The Water Plan says it will require a $200 billion investment in the next decade just to maintain the current system and level of service. Cowin says much of California’s water supply and flood protection infrastructure is aging or outdated.
“If we want to improve that reliability, improve water quality across communities in California and deal with the continued ecosystem decline that we’re facing then we’re going to have to increase that investment up to as much as $500 billion.”
Cowin also says the plan has more than 300 specific steps to reinforce the Governor’s Water Action Plan that was released in January. They include making conservation a way of life, expanding water storage, and providing safe drinking water.