Gov. Newsom Takes Action to Protect California’s Water Supplies from Climate Change

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order Feb. 13 to protect the state’s water supplies from extreme weather and the effects of climate change.[0]

The order directs state agencies to review and provide recommendations on the state’s drought response actions by the end of April, including the possibility of terminating specific emergency provisions that are no longer needed.[1] Newsom has proposed an additional $202 million for flood protection and $125 million for drought-related actions in the 2023-24 state budget.[2]

The order gives the State Water Resources Control Board the ability to modify state requirements that dictate how much water in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is allowed to flow into San Francisco Bay.[3] It also streamlines and increases groundwater recharge projects and allows the board to reevaluate requirements for reservoir releases and diversion limitations to maximize water supplies north and south of the Delta while protecting the environment.[4]

On February 14th, the Delta outflow was found to be 18,000 cubic feet per second, equating to only 61% of the flow mandated by the water board.[5] It is predicted that if temperatures continue to rise and humidity decreases, the annual water supply for the state could be reduced by 10% by the year 2040.[2]

Newsom said in the order that he hopes to help “maintain critical flows for fish and wildlife,” but environmental groups have voiced objections, arguing that the executive order signals the governor’s intention to “put his thumbs on the scale in favor of extinction in the Delta.”[6]

It is expected that the water board will grant permission for more water to be kept later in the year in the two largest reservoirs in the state, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, as well as more water to be transported south to the San Luis Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley.[5] It also aims to streamline and increase groundwater recharge projects.[1]

The order provides additional mechanisms to hasten the process of capturing as much water as possible and aims to provide relief for farmers, water providers, and vulnerable communities that have been impacted by drought. It also protects the environment and promotes resiliency in a changing climate.

0. “Gov. Newsom signs executive order to protect state water supply” Daily Californian, 14 Feb. 2023,

1. “Newsom signs order to protect California's water supply from extreme weather”, 14 Feb. 2023,

2. “Newsom signs executive order to increase statewide stormwater capture” Courthouse News Service, 14 Feb. 2023,

3. “After flushing stormwater, Newsom signs order to boost water flow to Valley” The San Joaquin Valley Sun, 17 Feb. 2023,

4. “Gov. Newsom Signs New Executive Order To Help Retain Water Against Extreme Weather Events” California Globe, 14 Feb. 2023,

5. “Newsom suspends environmental laws to store more Delta water” Red Bluff Daily News, 15 Feb. 2023,

6. “A ‘Get Out of Jail Free' Card for Stealing the Delta's Water” NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), 15 Feb. 2023,