Gray calls for state audit of water operations
Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced, on Monday asked the Legislative Audit Committee to order an audit of California’s water operations. The audit would look at the functions of both the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board.
Gray cited last year’s loss of roughly 700,000 acre feet of water – enough to supply 1.4 million California households for a year – as one of his prime considerations.
“Why was no one held accountable after the state grossly miscalculated how much moisture was actually stored in the Sierras last year,” Gray asked. He pointed out that other public agencies – including local irrigation districts and a federal agency whose duties include calculating how much water is in the annual snowpack – did not make similar mistakes.
“The water is long gone,” said Gray in an opinion column printed at CalMatters.org. “All we are left with are questions.”
The Department of Water Resources released an unknown amount of water in anticipation of spring runoff. Meanwhile, the drought of 2021 saw some cities run out of water entirely and many domestic wells going dry. There was also a loss of juvenile salmon in the Sacramento River and it’s tributaries.
Gray also questioned ongoing operations. In February 2022, DWR was releasing nearly three-times the normal flow for that period from the largest state-operated reservoir – Lake Oroville – even as climatologists throughout the nation were predicting a resumption of drought.
“Until we understand what has gone wrong with the agencies charged with managing California’s water, we cannot understand how to fix the problem,” wrote Gray.