The Western U.S. keeps getting hotter and drier.  According to the EPA, since 2000 the Southwest has experienced an increase in average temperatures by as much as two degrees in certain areas (versus the long-term average from 1895 – 2000).[1]  In a region that relies on surface water as the primary water source, higher temperatures are a threat as any increase in temperature leads to increased evaporation, lessening the total available.  Additionally, the meager precipitation and snowpack totals are quickly absorbed by the parched soil and plants leaving less to runoff and replenish supplies.  In response to predictions by scientists and water managers that increasing temperatures will decrease California’s water supply by 10 percent by 2040, Governor Gavin Newsom announced a new water strategy in August, detailed in the report, California’s Water Supply Strategy, Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future

The new strategy updates the priorities previously established by the administration to increase water supply and resiliency in the face of climate change through the following actions:

  • Develop new water supplies through technologies such as wastewater recycling and desalination with a goal of 800,000 acre-feet per year by 2030.
  • Increase water capture and storage above and below ground by 4 million acre-feet, with attention given to dams and the expansion of the San Luis Reservoir.
  • Continue conservation efforts to reduce water demand by 500,000 acre-feet by 2030, with focus given to agriculture cropping and land use decisions.
  • Improve forecasting, data and management of water supplies, and water rights modernization.  This approach includes infrastructure and the ability of water systems to move water in the state, highlighting the proposed Delta Conveyance Project.[2]

The targeted water strategies and goals are aggressive, both in expense and in proposed time of completion; for those reasons, the state will work to create incentives and expedite permitting.  Although water agencies and agriculture are favorable toward the plan, environmentalists say more attention should be given to the amount of water consumed by the agricultural industry as 80 percent of the state’s water is used to provide irrigation to over nine million acres of land.[3]  The Governor has not gone so far as to mandate state-wide water-use restrictions, a decision that also sparks disapproval. 

[1] “A Closer Look: Temperature and Drought in the Southwest.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency,

[2] California Natural Resources Agency. California's Water Supply Strategy - Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future. Aug. 2022,

[3] Hanak, Ellen, and Jeffrey Mount. “Water Use in California.” Public Policy Institute of California, Public Policy Institute of California, 14 Mar. 2022,