California enjoys healthy water supply, but battles over its uses continue to fester – Orange County Register

California’s major reservoirs are nearly full thanks to two wet winters, the Sierra snowpack is thicker than usual and the state is expected to get even more rain and snow this spring.

After years of drought, California’s water supply is the healthiest it has ever been in the 21st century. Nonetheless, the state’s centuries-old rivalries over water use priorities continue and could intensify as climate change affects the amount of water available.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom donned snowshoes to accompany state water officials as they measured the Sierra snowpack near Lake Tahoe and said it was well above 100% of the average.

The event was streamed online, and Newsom used it to warn Californians that the state’s water future is uncertain and unveil an update to the state’s water master plan.

“You can take a deep breath this year, but don’t quadruple the time you spend in your shower,” Newsom advised, “and then consider that this time next year we might be in a different place.”

The water plan is to be revised every five years and the new version emphasizes “resilience” – making water systems less vulnerable to climate change – and “equity”. He notes that “for more than 95 percent of Californians, safe, reliable, and affordable water is seen as a daily guarantee, but for approximately one million Californians, there is a persistent struggle to access water safe for human consumption.” .

“These extremes are becoming the new reality, and this new reality requires a new approach,” Newsom said, adding: “I remind you all that the water system in California was designed for a world that no longer exists. “

The updated plan describes itself as a “call to action, a collaborative effort, in which everyone has a role to play – state agencies and departments with responsibilities for water, regulation and climate ; regional water and resource managers and stewards at all scales in the water sectors; and individual Californians.

It assumes that California will build two major projects: the Sites Reservoir on the west side of the Sacramento Valley to store 1.5 million acre-feet of water during high rainfall years, and a 45-mile tunnel of long which would carry water from the Sacramento. River to the head of the California Aqueduct near Tracy, bypassing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“We’re seeing real progress,” Newsom said of the $16 billion project. “My goal is to get this cleared by the time you deport me.” Newsom described it as “fundamental (and) essential if we are to address the issue of climate change.” It’s a climate project. This is one of the most important projects this state can move forward.

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