California: Water Resilience Portfolio Released for Public Review

by Sheryl Hamlin

Responding to an Executive Order issued in April 2019 by Governor Newsom, a team of State agencies has released a comprehensive inventory of California’s water resources which includes “more than 100 integrated actionable recommendations in four broad areas to help regions build water resilience as resources become available, while at the same time providing state leadership to improve infrastructure and protect natural ecosystems.” Source: CA Water Resilience

What is Water Resilience?

From Miriam-Webster, the word “resilience” is defined as follows:

Definition of resilience. 1 : the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress. 2 : an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.

Water supplies are stressed from draught, urbanization, population growth and climate change. Defined by the EPA, Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer. Source: EPA

Population Forecast and Water Usage

The report shows water demand through 2050 in low to high scenarios by region. This discussion starts at pdf page 58 in the report and includes several detailed charts. Governor Brown’s signature law SGMA (Strategic Groundwater Management Act) and the improvements that will occur based on local management of basins have not been included in water projections.

California’s current population appears to be hovering around 39 million and the growth rate appears to have “stalled” per KTLA news. Clearly planners will be reviewing population changes and updating their 117 models used in the water forecast.

Regions and Regionalization

The draft report uses the word “region” 50 times. The State of California is divided into ten hydrologic regions. Each region is profiled in the draft report. The map below is taken from pdf page 8 of the draft report.

Inter-regional projects (2.19) include the California Delta tunnel which supports southern California using northern California water and “flood risk reduction and ecosystem benefits” (30.2).

Water Quality by Region

This section provides a visualization of problems that must be solved by local and regional water systems in order to provide for public health. In Region 4 of the South Coast Region where Ventura County is located (pdf page 100), these “contaminents of concern” have been identified. Pdf page 46. Impaired water bodies and causes in Region 4 is shown on pdf page 102. The words “bacteria” and “testing” for such are not found in the report, an essential topic for a future report.

Nutrient contaminants consist of nitrogen connected to human caused action: fertilizer, human waste and animal wastes. Though not specified, this is a wake up call for the local and regional wastewater plants. The number one problem shown in Region 4 is pesticides. See item 3.9 on pdf page 35 about “large scale water recycling”, a realization that these are regional in nature and will need regionalized funding sources.

Upwards of one million people in California lack access to safe drinking water. (pdf page 13)


Desalination is included as a resource and is mentioned nine (9) times in the report realizing that California has benefitted from several successful desalination projects as has the rest of the world.


Funding is mentioned 47 times in the draft report without much specificity. Ideally a subsequent version of this report will flush out funding sources. Now $33 billion is spent on water with 85% coming from local districts and the rest from the State. Pdf page 119

Salton Sea Restoration

This pending ecological disaster is mentioned sixteen (16) times in the draft report, however, the most logical solution is the sea-to-sea solution which is not mentioned. Water from the Gulf of Mexico is logical and considered by many to be the best hope of avoiding disaster. Read here. Diplomacy needed.

Healthy Soils Program

The Healthy Soils Program is mentioned on pdf page 21 for improvements in agricultural practices. Yet the State of California does not appear ready to address the use of sludge in agriculture which is a known bio-polutant. Read about sludge here.

Near-Term Goals

On pdf page 19, the statement is made that within the next decade local and regional agencies must recycle or reuse 2.5 million acre-feet per year (afy). But the report does not discuss the Direct Potable Reuse framework or the concerns about such from various agencies. These were brought to the Water Board’s attention here. Below is a statement on potable reuse which is mentioned 8 times in the report without specifying the “high level treatment” for which there is no agreement yet at the State level.

Comments due by February 1, 2020

Download the report and make comments. Instructions and download can be found here: Water Resilience Official Site

Water is life. Take the opportunity to participate in the discussion.

For more about the author: Sherylhamlin dot com

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5 Responses to California: Water Resilience Portfolio Released for Public Review

  1. Marshall Roath January 11, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Ted you are right. Now we need to figure out how we can keep the lawyers out of the loop to reduce the up front costs and build them in a timely fashion so that desal plants are usable in our lifetime.

  2. Ted Kuepper January 11, 2020 at 11:04 am

    It takes the same amount of energy to pump water through the State Water Project (SWP) from the Sacramento Delta to Southern California as it does to desalinate seawater. Desal could reduce the amount of water pumped through the SWP by half to the benefit of farmers, fisheries and the rivers themselves.

    • William Hicks January 12, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      TED….Can quality, wholesomeness, of water be maintained when sea water frequently is affected by unhealthy runoff and dumping of sewage off our coasts?

  3. Coulter H Stewart January 11, 2020 at 10:18 am

    The climate of Southern California is most like the Middle East. Israel, Saudi Arabia and others are already desalinating ocean water to augment supplies using a variety of proven technologies. An Israeli system is in operation for the SDCWA. Agriculture uses 85% of developed water in California and farmers control most of the water supplies and agencies/boards.
    If the residents, industries and businesses in Southern California want reliable water supplies they need to desalinate ocean water.

    • William Hicks January 12, 2020 at 12:10 pm

      STEWART….could increasing storage capacity, when the rains are generous, be another way to meet human needs for water?


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