Last week the PPIC Water Policy Center partnered with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for an important and timely discussion on the current drought and long-term solutions to California’s water challenges. The forum brought together water, business, university, and community leaders from around the state. Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose remarks opened and closed the event, emphasized the need for a big vision to tackle the drought, accompanied by strong leadership to ensure the timely implementation of creative solutions.
The event provided an opportunity to go beyond the current finger-pointing of who uses how much water, resulting in a more productive conversation about what can be done in key sectors and regions of California. In her presentation introducing key facts about the state’s big water issues, Ellen Hanak, director of the PPIC Water Policy Center, introduced two main themes that helped guide further discussions: “We’re all in this together” and “There are no silver bullets” to tackle major droughts. There was widespread agreement among speakers that a more sustainable future for water in California will benefit both our economy and environment, but we need an “all of the above” approach. We need to increase supplies, reduce demand, and modernize our approach.
More than 20 participants shared their views in a series of three panel discussions, including two members of the PPIC Water Policy Center advisory council, Tim Quinn and Lester Snow, and a member of our research network, Dan Sumner. Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of PPIC, served as moderator for a discussion on the state’s most important drought-based challenges, the role of agriculture, and solutions for addressing the drought.