California is looking to emulate Australia and South Africa’s famous drought awareness campaigns known as Day Zero—the symbolic point when drinking water runs out and taps run dry in cities.Speaking at a Food and Ag Board meeting this week, CDFA Executive Director Josh Eddy explained how the department has been gathering vital drought lessons like this from its international initiatives. Eddy offered the Day Zero approach as a way to build a case for setting Sites Reservoir and other projects as high priorities within the state’s environmental and permitting reviews.

“That is very much a focus” for Gov. Newsom’s drought task force, added CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.

“It's going to be a very delicate balancing act,” she said. “People are very aware of the permitting issues.”

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She pointed to Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot’s commitment to streamlining environmental reviews under his Cutting the Green Tape initiative. Ross also referenced monthly water board reports showing how Californians have fallen behind on conserving water, which adds more pressure on agencies to “drive home the sense of urgency” for the crisis.

“We can't just wait,” said Ross, as she explained the need to integrate state resources through a more holistic approach. “We have to be constantly prepared for drought.”