California is currently experiencing one of the worst droughts in memory. The 2016 water year is off to a good start, but with four consecutive dry years and the record low snowpack of 2015, drought conditions may continue for a fifth straight year.
Flooding in the midst of drought is likely, given strong El Niño conditions in the Pacific Ocean. Nothing focuses Californians’ attention on our water resources like the extremes of flood and drought.
There is broad agreement that the state’s water management system is currently unable to satisfactorily meet both ecological and human needs, too exposed to wet and dry climate cycles and natural disasters, and inadequate to handle the additional pressures of future population growth and climate change. Solutions are complex and expensive, and they require the cooperation and sustained commitment of all Californians working together. To be sustainable, solutions must strike a balance between the need to provide for public health and safety (e.g., safe drinking water, clean rivers and beaches, flood protection), protect the environment, and support a stable California economy.
This action plan lays out our challenges, our goals and decisive actions needed now to put California’s water resources on a safer, more sustainable path. While this plan commits the state to moving forward, it also serves to recognize that state government cannot do this alone. Collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal governments, in coordination with our partners in a wide range of industry, government and nongovernmental organizations is not only important—it is essential. The input and contributions received from all of these partners throughout the drafting of this action plan have resulted in a comprehensive and inclusive plan.