CA Water Managers Successfully Diversify Water Supplies in Face of Threats

by | Oct 4, 2018

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Since 2014, California has passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), updated its water recycling policy to encourage a shift away from reliance on large-scale regional water supply systems, and begun requiring that California State Water Boards adopt regulations for groundwater replenishment using recycled water. Moves such as these have been taken in an attempt to help the state manage threats to its major water supply systems – and seem to have successfully led to water managers increasing the diversification of water supplies and their use of recycled water, according to Jonathan King of global law firm Squire Patton Boggs.

It seems likely that the state’s water managers will continue to look for creative strategies for managing their water portfolios, including the development of localized sources, King writes.


Shifting Reliance Away from Major Supplies

California’s municipal water managers have begun to focus on appropriate water recycling, improved infrastructure maintenance and the use of stormwater, rather than relying solely on major regional supply systems like the State Water Project, the Central Valley Projects, and the Colorado River.

For example:

  • The Metropolitan Water District is looking into large-scale investments into recycled water from water treatment plants.
  • The Orange County Water District (OCWD), which constructed a groundwater replenishment system in 2008, received a $135 million federal grant to purify treated wastewater from the sanitation district to produce an additional 30 million gallons per day of drinking water.
  • Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to provide purified water for indirect and/or direct potable reuse to supplement groundwater recharge from other existing sources.


Keeping Up with the Changes…

As California faces increasing water shortages due to drought, population growth and climate change, being able to manage groundwater sustainably is one of the most important and complex challenges the state will face in coming decades, water experts believe. Last month, Maven’s Notebook, in partnership with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Stanford’s Program on Water in the West (WitW), unveiled a new tool, the Groundwater Exchange, to help water managers understand the SGMA.

The exchange is a free, collaborative online platform that offers tools and resources to support successful implementation of SGMA.



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