The Water Policy Center at the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) last month sent Governor Gavin Newsom’s administration its recommendations for the Water Resilience Portfolio.

The institute’s water scholars write that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will impact agriculture hardest, resulting in “some permanent idling of farmland” in the San Joaquin Valley. They add that California can be a leader in enabling broader uses for recycled water and more streamlined permitting.

The memo mentions how some farmers and irrigation districts are experimenting with new, multi-benefit groundwater recharge methods like flooding cropland during winter months. “But the rules governing diversion of water from rivers are unclear” and growers need guidelines and a better accounting system for on-farm recharge, they add.

Improving conveyance and storage capacity was at the top of the PPIC list, particularly for underground storage and supporting water trading.

In protecting ecosystems, PPIC recommends going beyond Clean Water Act and Endangered Species permits and dialing in the science while setting metrics-driven goals.

The report concludes that the portfolio’s next “crucial step will be to build momentum and trust to ensure its successful implementation.”