Major Companies Weigh in on Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Plan
March 14, 2016 /3BL Media/ - As the California Water Commission readies for a March 16 public hearing on implementation of California’s Proposition 1 Water Bond, six major businesses—Clif Bar, The Coca-Cola Company, Dignity Health, Fetzer Vineyards, General Mills, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Symantec and The North Face—urged the Commission to adopt regulations that would allow for the widest range of projects to strengthen California’s water system, including groundwater recharge projects, and initiatives of all sizes.
In a letter sent today, coordinated by the nonprofit sustainability advocacy organization, Ceres, the companies wrote, “the CWC has a unique opportunity to promote the development of a flexible, resilient and multi-faceted water storage strategy that can provide the long-term reliability needed by all Californians. In order to provide that reliability and make best use of the $2.7 billion allocated for water storage, the CWC must ensure that groundwater storage solutions are able to compete for funding on an equal footing with surface water projects. Investments in a diverse portfolio of storage solutions including groundwater, surface water, and conjunctive use projects are key to achieving long-term water security in California.”
“Companies signing the letter have a significant stake in California’s water future and they would like to ensure that the state makes the right investments to diversify our water supply system and promote local reliability,” explained Kirsten James, Director of Policy for Ceres’ California program. “We need to spend this money wisely as we don’t know when it will come around again,” she added.
Companieshave a significant stake in California’s water future and would like to ensure that the state makes the right investments to diversify our water supply system and promote local reliability solutions, including water recycling, groundwater recharge and stormwater capture.”
In November 2014, the state legislature and California voters passed the Water Quality, Supply, Infrastructure and Improvement Act of 2014 (Water Bond), which provides $7.5 billion for critical water projects. Of that amount, $2.7 billion is earmarked for water storage, which could include groundwater projects and surface water storage solutions that promote local water supplies and protect surface and groundwater resources, depending on how the implementing regulations are crafted.
Groundwater is a critical and increasingly scarce element of California’s water supply. On average, about 30 percent of the state’s water supply comes directly from groundwater. In times of drought, such as in recent years, groundwater consumption can rise to 60 percent, which is not sustainable over the longer term. Currently, many of the state’s aquifers are being over-drafted more rapidly than they are being replenished.
Companies are members of Ceres’ Connect the Drops coalition, a campaign to elevate the voice of California businesses in favor of resilient water solutions including conservation, reuse and integrated management of the state’s precious surface and groundwater supplies. Many of these companies are adopting their own water projects in California, ranging from conservation and recycling to restoration and groundwater recharge, and they recognize that long-term reliability and management of water supply in California is critical.
“Water is an essential element of our business, and we rely on the state’s ability to sustainably manage our collective water resources,” said Josh Prigge, Director of Regenerative Development at Fetzer Vineyards. “We encourage the California Water Commission to set inclusive criteria for the funding of water storage projects that will allow for the full range of solutions while prioritizing cost-effectiveness."
Ceres is a nonprofit organization mobilizing business and investor leadership on climate change, water scarcity and other sustainability challenges, with offices in San Francisco and Boston. Ceres directs the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a network of over 110 institutional investors with collective assets totaling more than $13 trillion. Ceres also directs Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation. For more information, visit www.ceres.org or follow on Twitter @CeresNews.