Federal investment in California water system necessary to avert looming water supply crisis, group says

Federal investments in California's aging water infrastructure are necessary to forestalling a water shortage that could prove more damaging than the current energy crisis, ACWA said.

Washington, D.C., April 3, 2001 — Federal investments in California's aging water infrastructure are necessary to provide national economic and environmental benefits and forestalling a water shortage that could prove more damaging than the current energy crisis, the state's leading water association today told a key Congressional sub-committee.

"Unless we invest in expanding the capacity of our water infrastructure, California will fall victim to another totally foreseeable crisis, for no other reason than its refusal to plan," Steve Hall, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies told the House Water and Power Subcommittee.

Hall said ACWA and its members support legislation now being developed by Congressman Ken Calvert (R-Riverside) to develop additional water supplies and restore ecosystems in California through the CalFed Bay-Delta Program.

There is an important federal interest in such an investment program since the United States owns and operates the state's largest water system-the Central Valley Project-and has a national interest in preserving the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento/San Joaquin Delta, Hall noted.

In addition, much of the uncertainty in the state's current water supplies derives from national laws that have effectively reallocated water from human to environmental uses, such as the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act.

"California's water system exists in a continual state of conflict between multiple uses and competing priorities," Hall said.

Water supply development has stalled since the State Water Project was first developed in the late 1960s. Over the past decade, the state's population has grown by eight million but only two new regional water storage facilities have been built and several million acre-feet of water have been shifted to environmental purposes.

California has managed to weather declining supplies only by massive investments in water conservation and improved irrigation efficiencies-a strategy that has nearly met its limit.

"We are now demanding 21st century performance from a system that essentially pre-dates the Cold War," Hall said. Targeted investments in water infrastructure improvements can point the way out of the current conflicts.

"California can provide enough water for a healthier economy and a healthier environment; for safe drinking water while continuing to irrigate; for healthy ecosystems and water to run our high tech businesses; for a healthy interstate flyway and for commercial fishing; for a high quality of life for Californians and for a high quality habitat for our wildlife," Hall said.

For a complete copy of Hall's testimony, go to ACWA's Web site-www.acwanet.com.

ACWA is a statewide organization whose 440 public agency members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit www.acwanet.com.

ACWA is a statewide organization whose 438 public agency members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California.

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