Schwarzenegger considers Californian water woe

A rapidly growing population and commercial agriculture is putting a strain on California's water supply, according to State governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who unveiled plans for a massive investment in water storage this week.

A drought in the state is causing an increasing problem and in his address this week the Governor said the people of California could not rely on clement weather to sort out the issue.

“If we have another dry season like this I would say that it will be catastrophic, it will be a disaster,” he said.

“The last time that California had a long drought we lost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in farming and in landscaping and nursery.”

In the last 20 years, the state has not built a single major reservoir, he said, even though the population has nearly doubled in that time and looks set to increase by half again by 2050.

“We don’t have enough water,” said Mr Schwarzenegger.

“At the same time we have to put so much pressure on the Delta over the years that we have broken down the system. Whether it is a natural disaster that destroys aging levees, contamination from rising sea levels, or our decision to turn off the pumps, we can no longer ignore the threats to California’s fragile water system.

“So we face an enormous challenge here in California to make sure that California has safe and reliable water, not only for now but also 20, 30 years from now.”

The Governor proposed a massive $5.9bn spending programme which would include building new reservoirs, repairing existing water infrastructure and restorative and conservation work.

The money for the programme would be raised by selling revenue bonds, a common way to fund state-led projects in the USA akin to dipping into Government reserves.

Mr Schwarzenegger said it was imperative to take action now.

“We have to build, we cannot anymore procrastinate,” he said.

“We don’t need another study to tell us that California needs water storage, we don’t need another commission. We can’t keep kicking that can down the alley. We have been doing this for 20 or 30 years now.

“Everyone…knows that we have to go and build, so anyone that wants to have another study just wants to procrastinate further. California has done that for the last 50 years. I was sent to Sacramento to create some action and to get us moving again, and to make progress on issues that have been swept under the rug for too long. I want to create that action.”

Sam Bond

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie