In April 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing the Natural Resources Agency and its partner agencies to prepare a “Water Resilience Portfolio” that will be California’s roadmap for building statewide water resilience and sustainable management. The Portfolio will reflect several foundational principles such as:
- Prioritizing multi-benefit approaches to water management
- Using nature-based infrastructure, and
- Embracing innovation and new technologies as water solutions
The plan is also likely to include actions aimed at increasing recycling and conservation, expanding stormwater capture and groundwater recharge, modernizing our water infrastructure, and advancing multi-benefit projects, among others.
The water resource management and multiple benefits of localized infrastructure at the core of Tap into Resilience fit perfectly within the Portfolio’s principles and intended actions. In particular, these solutions are innovative, provide co-benefits including jobs, improve public and wildlife habitat health, and keep rates affordable. As utilities and cities can now use revenue bonds to pay for them, investments in localized, resilient solutions can be expanded.
To elevate these issues and hear additional insights from our ever growing pool of water leader members, WaterNow held a California member stakeholder call and fleshed out how the Portfolio can set actionable ways to expand water use efficiency, provide additional funding for sustainable water management, standardize data collection and management around innovative solutions and foster partnerships between the State and local water utilities. We then synthesized this discussion in a detailed comment letter signed by 13 city councilors, mayors, and special water district board members and managers from all areas of the State.
In particular, this WaterNow member comment letter provided recommendations on ways the Portfolio can:
- Prioritize localized strategies in the state revolving fund program
- Encourage and support public water utilities in accessing capital financing to expand adoption of localized solutions and technologies in their communities
- Eliminate potential tax barriers to localized strategies
- Partner with local water providers to foster statewide resilience
- Integrate portfolio actions with existing sustainability requirements & targets
In addition, WaterNow participated in a day-long stakeholder meeting where participants provided additional input on further embracing water innovation and new technology in the Portfolio. This diverse group developed 22 recommendations, including three financing innovation recommendations, to which WaterNow contributed. These recommendations will be shared with the Natural Resources Agency.
The Governor is expected to release a draft Portfolio reflecting this first round of public comment in November 2019. There will then be another opportunity for WaterNow and our members to provide feedback on that draft. We encourage everyone to get involved in this critical opportunity—the Portfolio will serve as the State’s roadmap for meeting our future water needs and ensuring environmental and economic resilience through the 21st century. Stay tuned!