Sustainability is defined as that which “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In California, several efforts have been undertaken in recent years to address the sustainability and resilience of the state’s vital water resources.
In 2014, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act was signed into law, establishing a framework for local officials to balance aquifer use with replenishment and ensure the sustainability of groundwater as a resource.
Then in 2018, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) updated its State Water Plan with an eye toward sustainably managing and developing water resources for current and future generations.
The 2018 update noted that “the people and ecosystems of California are increasingly vulnerable to extremes that underscore the need to bolster planning and infrastructure to prepare for the effects of climate change.” The plan goes on to note that challenges to sustainability include flood risk, lack of safe, clean water and adequate sanitation for many of the state’s residents, impaired ecosystems, groundwater overdraft and unreliable water supplies, extensive tree deaths that contribute to destructive wildfires, and climate change.
The 2018 Water Plan Update provided some of the foundation for the state’s 2020 Water Resilience Portfolio, a broader effort from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration aimed at improving the state’s resilience in addressing impacts of climate change. Those impacts include more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations and increasing stress on upper watersheds.