Conservationists Set Sights on Sustainable Water Planning to Address Ongoing Drought

Planning and Conservation League’s Annual Legislative symposium, “Water for Life: Towards an Equitable and Sustainable Water Future for California” included top conservationists, legislative leaders

For Immediate Release: February 1, 2014
Contact: Sage Sweetwood, Executive Director – 916-822-5632

Davis, Calif. – Today, the Planning and Conservation League and PCL Foundation held their annual legislative symposium to bring together California’s environmental, community, business, agency and elected leaders to explore California’s most pressing environmental issues. This year’s event, entitled Water for Life and focusing exclusively on California water policy, came on the heels of Governor Brown declaring a drought emergency for the state.

“As California struggles with our lowest rainfall totals in the past 153 years, we have to decide how to respond to this crisis,” said Bruce Reznik, Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League (PCL). “Rather than a business-as-usual approach that focuses on ‘pump and dump’ water policies; or a focus on short-term actions that will get us through our current emergency without the long-term reforms that are needed; we can take this opportunity to fundamentally change California’s water policies to ensure a sustainable and equitable water portfolio for the state for generations to come.”

With 2014 shaping up as the ‘year of water’ in California as the Legislature, Administration and state agencies struggle with drought response, the 2014 water bond, Bay-Delta Conservation Plan and other major water policy initiatives, this year’s event could not have been more critical.

Today’s PCL Symposium included many of the top thinkers, doers and decision-makers on water policy, including: Senator Lois Wolk, Assembly Members Anthony Rendon and Mark Stone, Peter Gleick (Pacific Institute), Tim Quinn (ACWA), Lester Snow (California Water Foundation), Tam Doduc (SWRCB), Robert Wilkinson (UC Santa Barbara), and many others from the legislative, nonprofit, business, agency and academic arenas.

The day-long event included 11 sessions focused on exploring: Strategies to promote more water conservation, reuse and reclamation to address California’s historic drought; What’s next for the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan; What a 2014 water bond can and should include; How to ensure that all Californians have access to safe, clean water; and How we can mobilize around a shared vision for California’s water future.

Assembly Members Toni Atkins and Mark Stone, Former Assemblyman and Trustee Mike Eng, and the California American Water Co. received awards from PCL for their outstanding leadership in protecting California’s environment and addressing water needs of communities throughout the state.

“In the face of the drought,” continued Mr. Reznik, “We can no longer rely on expensive and environmentally-devastating 20th century solutions like dams and water transfers. These are contingent on having water flows that are unrealistic in today’s changing climate. It’s time to invest in a diversified water portfolio using a 4R (reduce, reuse, recycle, restore) approach to ensure that we have access to clean, safe water, a healthy environment, and thriving economy for generations to come.”

See the full agenda for the PCL 2014 Annual Legislative Symposium (PDF).