Construction & Claims: December 2023

Nossaman eAlert

Welcome to Construction & Claims, a periodic digest of the headlines, statutory and regulatory changes and court cases involving construction news, claims, bid protests, contract administration and payment-related disputes. 

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Charting California's Water Future: A Comprehensive Overview of the State's Bold Water Supply Strategy

In August 2022, the Newsom administration unveiled California's Water Supply Strategy, a comprehensive plan to address the anticipated 10% decline in water supplies by 2040 due to a hotter and drier climate. The strategy rests on four main pillars: developing new water supplies; expanding storage capacity; reducing demand; and improving forecasting, data, and water rights administration. An October 2023 progress report on California’s Water Supply Strategy offers the Newsom administration’s views on progress made in implementing the plan over the past year.1 Key actions include initiating public comment on regulations for direct potable reuse of recycled water, establishing a Seawater Desalination Interagency Group, and advancing groundwater desalination projects. The strategy also emphasizes increasing groundwater recharge and supporting various water storage projects.

The second pillar involves expanding storage capacity above and below ground by four million acre-feet, with a focus on increasing average annual groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet. Notable achievements include the issuance of temporary recharge permits, legislative support for water storage projects, and the approval of funds for the Harvest Water Project. Additionally, efforts are underway rehabilitate dams to regain storage capacity, with the federal government committing $85 million to the San Luis Reservoir Expansion Project.

The third pillar aims to reduce demand by building upon conservation achievements, with a target of reducing annual water demand in towns and cities by half a million acre-feet by 2030. Initiatives include launching efficiency standards for urban water suppliers, allocating funds for community water reduction, and implementing programs like Save Our Water. Measures are also being taken to stabilize groundwater supplies through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, supporting local groundwater sustainability plans, and incentivizing sustainable groundwater use through programs like LandFlex.

The fourth and final pillar focuses on improving forecasting, data, and water rights administration. Notable advancements include enhanced forecasting tools during flood events, improved water supply forecasts, and the allocation of additional funds for streamgaging prioritization. Efforts are also underway to enhance the flexibility of water systems through projects like the Delta Conveyance Project and repairs to key water delivery systems. Water rights administration is being modernized for equity, access, flexibility, and transparency, with plans to digitize existing water rights records and implement real-time measurement systems. Public input is actively sought to address challenges and improve compliance and data quality in managing water during periods of scarcity.

1 We note that the views of the Newsom administration on this issue do not necessarily reflect those of Nossaman, or of all Nossaman clients. This post summarizes the administration’s summary of its own progress.

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