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California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveils water conservation plan to meet drought challenges

California Gov. Gavin Newsom's 16-page strategy calls for wastewater recycling and would invest heavily in growing technologies like those used to desalinate ocean and groundwater. File Photo by Eric Thayer/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/c5dcbb070ee054f2a952d0d8ef3802fc/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
California Gov. Gavin Newsom's 16-page strategy calls for wastewater recycling and would invest heavily in growing technologies like those used to desalinate ocean and groundwater. File Photo by Eric Thayer/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 12 (UPI) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom has unveiled a climate and conservation strategy to shore up the state's decreasing water supply, which is expected to dry up by 10% over the next two decades.

The initiative, which Newsom says is "an aggressive plan to rebuild the way we source, store and deliver water," calls for increased storage and wastewater recycling and would invest in growing technologies like those used to desalinate ocean and groundwater.

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The strategy includes a controversial plan to build a giant water tunnel underneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, and another to create a reservoir that would curtail flooding in areas north of Sacramento.

Water storage capacity would expand by 4 million acres under Newsom's plan, with a renewed focus on aquifers and utilizing water runoff from storms.

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In total, seven water storage projects would be funded with $2.7 billion from the Proposition 1 water bond, established in 2014.

The strategy would also speed up infrastructure, recycling and building projects as the state tries to keep pace with dry climate conditions that are leading to more frequent natural disasters.

"The hots are getting a lot hotter. The dries are getting a lot drier," Newsom said while visiting a water treatment plant in Antioch, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We have to adapt to that new reality, and we have to change our approach."

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The plant is one of 23 facilities in the state that turns brackish water into drinking water, and Newsom said the strategy would open a path to create more.

The governor also announced the appointment of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to oversee major areas of the directive as his infrastructure czar.

Newsom's plan blames ongoing drought and greenhouse gases for a process known as aridification, in which warm atmospheric conditions cause more ground water to evaporate and rivers and streams to dry up.

Water industry insiders have embraced the strategy, but some researchers and environmental advocates are still on the fence due to the plan's lack of focus on agriculture, an industry that uses the most water in California.

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