Water Agencies Give Environment, Sustainability Equal Footing

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has formally adopted policy principles embracing environmental and economic sustainability as co-equal priorities for water management in California.

The principles, adopted recently by ACWA's Board of Directors, express strong support for policies that promote significant improvements in both water supply reliability and ecosystem health. The principles are intended to expand on the association's 2005 water policy document, "No Time to Waste: A Blueprint for California Water," and guide the association as California grapples with numerous water supply challenges and the decline of aquatic species and habitats.

"California is on an unsustainable path today," ACWA Executive Director Timothy Quinn said. "The state of the aquatic environment is degrading, while water supply reliability and water quality are both in serious decline. It is imperative that we change course for both the environment and the economy of California."

The principles note that sustainability can be achieved only through comprehensive solutions that include conveyance improvements in the Delta and elsewhere, additional surface and groundwater storage, substantial investments in water use efficiency and local resources, and investments in habitat and actions that address all significant environmental stressors.

In other action, the board agreed to move ahead with development of cohesive policies on water use efficiency to guide the water community as well as a water conservation roadmap for achieving a 20 percent reduction in per capita water use by 2020. The roadmap effort will be a key focus for the association in 2009.

"ACWA supports the statewide goal of reducing per capita water use, but we can't impose a one-size-fits-all approach," Quinn said. "Local water agencies need management flexibility to adapt to widely varying local conditions. ACWA's approach is to allow for that flexibility, while accomplishing the statewide goal set out by Governor Schwarzenegger."

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