Broad Coalition Launches in Support of Governor Newsom’s Plan to Fix California’s Aging Water Distribution Infrastructure

For Immediate Release: November 20, 2019

Contact: Kyle Griffith (916) 443-0872

Sacramento – Today, a broad coalition of prominent labor, business, environmental, community and water leaders announced the launch of Californians for Water Security (CWS). The coalition supports Governor Newsom’s plan to fix California’s aging primary water distribution infrastructure by building a single tunnel through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This aging system is outdated and at risk of collapse in the event of a major earthquake or flood. Furthermore, this water delivery system needs to be modernized to better prepare for climate change and the resulting extreme droughts, severe floods, and increasing water salinity in the Delta resulting from rising sea levels.

The Newsom Administration is expected to initiate the environmental review process on the new project in December. CWS will work over the coming months and years to support the project through the regulatory process, at local water districts, and in the legislature through public education, grassroots activism, social and earned media. A key priority for the coalition will be to ensure the project is designed to carry sufficient capacity to protect the state’s water supply reliability and so that the project is financially viable.

“There are few things more important for the security of our state than a reliable water supply,” said Michael Quigley, Executive Director of the California Alliance for Jobs, a labor management partnership. “But California’s main water distribution system that supplies water to 2/3 of our state’s families, farms and businesses is aging and at risk of collapse. We must take steps now to fix our aging water distribution infrastructure to protect the safety and reliability of our state’s water supply. Inaction is not an option.”

Currently, two-thirds of water for Californians starts in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and flows through the state’s main water distribution system through the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta to other parts of the state, including the Bay Area, Central Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California. But this system is aging, vulnerable to natural disasters, and must be updated to better protect against climate change.

“We need to create long-term solutions to the systemic problems stemming from the state’s aging and sorely inadequate water distribution infrastructure.” Said Robbie Hunter, President of the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California. “We can’t wait for an earthquake or another natural disaster to strike or endure years more of a devastating drought that cripples our economy before taking action. We have a plan that works, and the time to move forward with that plan is now.”

“Many disadvantaged communities in California lack access to clean water,” said Alice Huffman, President of the California State Conference NAACP. “We support the Governor’s plan to fix our aging water distribution infrastructure to protect affordable, clean water for millions of Californians, particularly disadvantaged communities who rely on this critical water supply.”

“The system that delivers water to millions of residents, farms and businesses is at serious risk,” said Allan Zaremberg, President and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce. “Investments in our water infrastructure now will pay dividends in the future as we can secure our water supplies and protect hundreds of thousands of regional jobs that depend on the stability of this water source.”

“California’s water system is facing numerous challenges due to our changing climate,” said Dr. Jerry Meral, California Water Director at the Natural Heritage Institute. “We need to modernize our water system to guard against increased salinity due to rising sea levels, more extreme floods, and prolonged droughts. Repairing our conveyance will ensure we can reliably deliver water to people and businesses, while also protecting water supplies for the environment, fish and wildlife.”

CWS supports this project because it would:

  • Protect water security for two-thirds of the state. Without action, water supplies through our main distribution infrastructure will continue to decrease.
  • Improve the reliability and security of our water system by fixing aging infrastructure using the most innovative technologies and engineering practices.
  • Protect water supplies from earthquakes, floods and natural disasters by delivering them through a modern water pipeline, rather than solely through today’s deteriorating levee system.
  • Prepare for the impacts of climate change by improving our ability to move and store water to account for extreme swings in drought and flood and to protect against salinity caused by sea-level rise.
  • Restore habitats and more natural water flows above ground in rivers and streams in order to reduce impacts on endangered fish and other wildlife.
  • Serve as a critical component of a comprehensive water portfolio.

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