With only a matter of days left in the 2009 legislative year, lawmakers have formed a Legislative Conference Committee on Water. The conference committee is charged with creating a series of reforms that help reform and shape California’s antiquated water system and lead to a reliable supply of water for the state’s water users.
On Wednesday Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta) and Republican Senators Huff, Cogdill and Aanestad, along with members of the Legislative Conference Committee on Water, joined by the Carpenters´ Union and Latino Water Coalition held a news conference to point out the need for a serious and comprehensive water package to solve California’s growing water crisis.
“We must have a comprehensive solution that reflects the importance of water to our state´s economy. Senator Cogdill has been leading the effort for years to invest in our water infrastructure and we are hopeful we can complete this quickly, and provide the water Californians desperately need,” said Senator Hollingsworth.
While some local water agencies have built regional projects to increase local water supply and storage, California’s state and federal water systems have not seen any major upgrades since the State Water Project was completed in 1973, despite the addition of nearly 14 million residents.
According to population projections, the state’s total population will increase to 60 million people by the year 2050, an increase of over 56% from the 2000 census numbers. As the state’s population continues to grow, this is putting strain on our existing water supplies, as well as bringing into question the ability to accommodate this expected future growth.
At the same time, a historic drought has reduced the snowpack California depends on to fill its reservoirs, and the Delta, critical hub of California’s water system, faces multiple risk factors to its fragile levees. In other words, the Conference Committee has a lot of issues to resolve and little time to do it in.
The Committee will meet every day this week and through the Labor Day weekend. The Committee has until Tuesday, September 8 to bring a final conference report to the floor of both houses. A conference report can only be brought to the floor if eight conferees (four from the Senate and four from the Assembly) sign the conference report.
The California Senate Republican Caucus Conferees have created a blog page where people can follow related stories and issues taking place as the Conference Committee works towards a comprehensive solution.