California lawmakers push to improve state water systems to take advantage of atmospheric rivers

As California remains in a state of emergency for both flood and drought, elected officials at the state Capitol are working on how to avoid this dual state of emergency situation in the future.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree: The state needs to update its water systems and boost California’s ability to capture and store water to alleviate the effects of drought, especially when major storms or atmospheric rivers dump rain.

Updating the state’s water systems may be one of the few pushes this year when Democrats and Republicans work together. Here is a look at the proposals.

Assembly Bill 62 – Statewide water storage expansion

Weeks before the series of atmospheric rivers began hitting the state, Assm. Devon Mathis, R-Visalia, filed a proposal that sets statewide targets to increase above and below-ground water storage capacity by a total of 3.7 million acre-feet by 2030, to eventually reach the goal of 4 million acre-feet by 2040.

“Let’s get this storage done; let’s get it built,” said Mathis, who noted the numbers are based on a water strategy plan Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced last summer.