On The Record: Saving Water and Building a More Resilient Future
By Governor GAVIN NEWSOM
California’s climate has changed. We are experiencing more extreme weather – hotter temperatures, longer and more severe droughts, worsening wildfires and dangerous flash flooding. We’re seeing this not just in California, but across the entire American West.
These changes mean we must continue adapting to a hotter, drier future. Without action, state officials believe extreme weather could diminish California’s water supply by up to 10 percent by 2040.
The state has implemented unprecedented measures to cut water use, build storage capacity and increase supply. And it’s also up to all of us to keep doing our part to curb our water use.
California is investing billions of dollars into concrete actions that will secure the future of our state’s water supply. These key actions are part of a comprehensive water resilience plan, “California’s Water Supply Strategy, adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future,” which my administration released in August to highlight how we can stretch existing supplies and develop new sources to replace the water we will lose in this new era of warming temperatures.
The plan outlines our aggressive, science-led approach to addressing California’s water future by reimagining the way we source, store, and deliver water statewide for future generations. To match the pace of climate change, we know we must move smarter and faster – and we’re doing that.
Californians have repeatedly answered the call to use less water in past droughts. As the state prepares for the possibility of a fourth dry year and potential weather extremes, it’s more important than ever that all of us adopt water conservation as a way of life.
For many homeowners, most water use, and waste happens in our yards – in some areas, up to 75 percent of residential water use comes from sprinklers and other outdoor irrigation.
The good news is there are simple actions we can take right now to help save water in a big way. Simply watering your lawn less and fixing leaks inside and outside the house can save thousands of gallons of water each year.
If you’re ready to make bigger changes outside, updating yards with native landscaping that includes water-wise plants and hardscaping elements, like pavers, granite, or bark, can create year-round outdoor living spaces that eliminate the need to weed, mow and water regularly.
The state is working closely with local water agencies and other partners to ensure that Californians have access to the resources you need to help. Check with your local water agency for rebates to help cover some of these costs and to find out about community resources that can help you replace grass with water-smart landscaping that you, your family, and your pets can all enjoy.
Californians know how to meet the moment, and together, we can create necessary change for a water-smart future. The recently enacted state budget includes $3.6 billion over four years for immediate drought support and long-term water resilience. Including allocations in the 2021 state budget, a total of $8.7 billion has been dedicated to support drought resilience and response. This includes $175 million for lawn replacement and other water conservation strategies.
By making saving water a way of life, we can adapt and thrive. And if we each do our part, we can make our water last for generations to come. Together we can save water and save California.
(Gavin Newsom is the Governor of California, formerly Lieutenant Governor of California and Mayor of San Francisco. His “On the Record” column covers timely public policy issues impacting Californians across the state and is available to media outlets through the Governor’s website and in multiple languages at Ethnic Media Services.)