As the state’s largest water using sector, many look to agriculture as a way to free up water supplies for environmental and other uses. However, estimates of how much water could be saved vary widely, and oftentimes don’t result in ‘new’ water.
With the right infrastructure in place, water districts and agencies can manage surface water and groundwater as a single source, using one to balance the other when surface water or groundwater levels are low. Further implementation of conjunctive management practices across the state could yield between .5-2.5 million acre-feet.
Cloud seeding, practiced in California since the 1950s, is estimated to add 400,000 acre-feet per year to the state’s precipitation. Expanding the program could potentially add another 400,000 acre-feet per year.
Facing ongoing drought and growing water demand, many communities are turning to recycled water as a way to develop reliable local water resources. By building advanced water treatment facilities to extract pure water from sewage effluent, it is possible to create a sustainable water supply that is cheaper than desalinating seawater or buying new imported water supplies.
Surface storage offers a mixed bag of benefits and impacts. On the one hand, dams can provide water storage, flood control, hydropower, and recreation; on the other hand, dams can disrupt ecosystems, impact native species populations, block sediment transport, and cause water quality problems. The mix of benefits and impacts is highly dependent on where and how a reservoir is built.
Stormwater, traditionally thought of as a flood management problem, is getting attention as a resource with the potential to increase water supplies by up to 630,000 acre-feet per year. But the implementation of stormwater projects face challenges by high costs and water quality concerns.
With much of the state’s water supply originating in the mountains as precipitation on the forested landscape, the health and management of the upper watersheds are critically important to California’s water quality and water supply.
Protecting the areas in a groundwater basin where water infiltrates most easily preserves the critical function of recharging the aquifer, as well as protecting the aquifer from potential future contamination.
A well-functioning watershed provides clean water for drinking and irrigation, healthy soils, flood protection, habitat for wildlife, and outdoor recreation opportunities. Addressing these multiple issues calls for taking a watershed management approach.
Conveyance provides the means of moving water to connect the supply to the demand. Conveyance systems are a necessary and critical link in the water management chain, as water supplies are of no use without the means to distribute that water to end users or to put it into storage for future use.
Changing existing operations and management procedures for water project operations, referred to as system reoperation, can yield numerous benefits such as increasing yield, enhancing system reliability and efficiency, buffering against the impacts of climate change, and restoring and protecting ecosystems.
Water transfers can be an effective tool for water managers to provide flexibility in the allocation and use of water by moving water to where it is needed most, especially during times of drought. Water transfers can also help accommodate shifts in water demand over the long term. Transfers, however, must be carried out in a responsible manner in order to assure that they do not result in adverse impacts to other water users or unreasonable effects to the environment.
Drinking water treatment is among the most important public health achievements of the 20th century. However, agencies responsible for drinking water treatment and distribution face major challenges related to emerging contaminants, infrastructure, and the quality of source water.
Stormwater, traditionally thought of as a flood management problem, is getting attention as a resource with the potential to increase water supplies by up to 630,000 acre-feet per year. But implementation of stormwater projects face challenges by high costs and water quality concerns.