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Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed investing tens of billions of dollars to modernize California’s water systems as supply drops in the era of rising temperatures. 

Officials say hotter and drier weather conditions spurred by climate change could reduce California’s water supply by up to 10% by the year 2040. The $8 billion plan is detailed in a 16-page document, which seeks to help store, recycle, de-salt, and conserve the water to keep up with the increasing pace of climate change, generating enough water in the future for more than 8.4 million households by 2040.

“The best science tells us that we need to act now to adapt to California’s water future. Climate change means drought won’t just stick around for two years at a time like it historically has – extreme weather is the new normal here in the American West and California will adapt to this new reality,” Newsom said. “California is launching an aggressive plan to rebuild the way we source, store and deliver water so our kids and grandkids can continue to call California home in this hotter, drier climate.”

To help make up for the water supplies California could lose over the next two decades, the strategy prioritizes actions to capture, recycle, de-salt, and conserve more water. Other actions include creating space for up to 4 million acre-feet of water to capitalize from bid atoms when they occur, recycling and reusing at least 800,000 acre-feet of water per year by 2030 by improving the use of currently discharged water. 

Newsom’s proposal also includes freeing up to 500,000 acre-feet of water through more efficient conservation and making new water available for use by capturing stormwater and desalinating ocean water supply salty water in groundwater basins, diversifying supplies, and making the most of high flows during storm events.

Newsom announced the proposal at a press conference in Antioch Thursday outside a desalination plant construction site.

“This approach to California’s water supply management recognizes the latest science that indicates the American West is experiencing extreme, sustained drought conditions caused by hotter, drier weather. The warming climate means that a greater share of the rain and snowfall California receives will be absorbed by dry soils, consumed by thirsty plants, and evaporated into the air. This leaves less water to meet the state’s needs,” Newsom’s office wrote in a statement. 

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