There is often discussion that California could more efficiently use its existing water supply through water-saving practices, water reuse, and capture of lost storm water. Indeed, these methods of water conservation, reuse, and reduction are being developed and implemented by water districts throughout the state as part of broader statewide water management actions. The current drought draws attention to the need to advance these water efficiency efforts. Read the BDCP Blog on Integrated Water Management Part 1 and Part 2 to learn more about what California is doing to diversify the water supply.
No quick or singular fix will satisfy future water demand and it is crucial that we all look for ways to reduce and conserve our water use. Water conservation and efficiency efforts cannot offset entirely the loss of reliability associated with Delta water supplies. Consider that the economic benefit of water supply reliability from the BDCP is estimated at up to $16.6 billion, as analyzed in the Draft BDCP Chapter 9. Roughly eight percent of California’s water supply, on average, is pumped from the Delta. To replace existing Delta water supplies with conservation or water use efficiency projects alone would cost significantly more (up to $8,200 per acre-foot of water) than an investment in reliability through the BDCP. Some regions depend more heavily than others on federal and state water project deliveries. The BDCP does not guarantee more or less water will be pumped from the Delta – but ensures reliable supplies comparable to the 20-year historical average.
Without the BDCP, the water gained through conservation and recycling would go toward replacing unreliable Delta water supplies – and not toward growing our water supplies for future needs based on climate change and population growth. Delta water supplies help support 25 million people and more than 3 million acres of farmland.