As the state with the highest number of people in the nation that has endured several long-term droughts, California is grappling with the prospect of water shortages. In an effort to help address the issue, a report by a team of scientists, engineers, economists and legal experts from four California universities has put forth a plan for significant reform.
In describing the problems faced by the state, the report notes that not only are there no longer new sources of water but that existing water quality has deteriorated as pollution, especially from agricultural runoff of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, has increased.
In addition, many current water management strategies lack focus and are outdated, with an historical lack of groundwater quality regulation having harmed animal species as well as generating conflict in how to prioritize water use.
The report recommends a range of new approaches that include first and foremost to prioritize the restoration of entire ecosystems, with encouragement toward conservation, more supervision of groundwater extraction, and a cap-and-trade program to limit the discharge of pollutants.
Noting the need for comprehensive change, report co-author and a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, Dr. Ellen Hanak said, “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.”
Our thanks, Dr. Hanak and associates for your work together in assessing and seeking to improve supplies of this vital resource. May we all adopt the most considerate and sustainable lifestyles to ensure water security for the people of California and the world.