SACRAMENTO, CA – Today Senator Melissa Hurtado (D-Bakersfield) and other California lawmakers responded to the California State Auditor’s report that found the Department of Water Resources (DWR) used faulty and obsolete data in drafting their predictive water models for the state. California lawmakers hope that an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice will shed light on any potential market manipulation and lack of transparency occurring within California's water systems.

“The auditor’s report confirms what many have suspected: that DWR’s predictive modeling is bad, unscientific, and in need of a significant overhaul to say the least,” stated State Senator Melissa Hurtado. “The data used for modeling decisions are recklessly flawed, and we really need to figure out if any of it has been manipulated.”

Finding reliable data has become essential to making informed decisions surrounding water resource management, regulatory compliance, environmental impacts, ecosystem services, urban and economic development, and other issues. This data informs decisions by legislators, executives, agencies, and even, individual citizens. This data must be accurate and based on the best scientific evidence available, which leaves it potentially vulnerable to market manipulation by interested parties. DWR was unable to provide the auditor with a clear understanding of how water allocations are made, or the specific data used in making these determinations. These gaps in transparency and accountability have prompted lawmakers to request a comprehensive investigation into possible malpractices. 

“We need to do everything in our power to secure clean, affordable water in communities across California,” said Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose).  “The audit shows that DWR needs a comprehensive, long-term plan for the State Water Project that responds to long-term climate change. Meanwhile, we appreciate USDOJ’s recent assurance that it will to protect fair competition in water markets. Boosting transparency and accountability in water data will help people track where water is going and help communities fight for equitable access.”  

“Our state has been facing an ongoing drought for years. However, the negative impacts have continued despite efforts to curtail this emergency. These efforts to provide relief are critical, and require vetting to ensure full compliance. As Chair of the Emergency Management Committee, I see the need for further transparency and have joined my colleagues in urging the United States Department of Justice to investigate the accuracy of data collected by various consulting firms,” stated Assemblymember Rodriguez (D-Pomona.) 

“It is essential that we address any concerns surrounding the manipulation of our water resources. The audit report's findings underscore the need for a thorough review by the U.S. Department of Justice," said Senator Hurtado. "We must maintain public trust in our water management systems. By initiating this review, we are taking strong measures to address any misconduct and protect the interests of all Californians. It is our responsibility to ensure a fair and transparent water allocation process that prioritizes the needs of our state and beyond,” stated Senator Melissa Hurtado in conclusion.

Two of the most important water systems in the Western United States are the Colorado River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The basis for the audit stems from Water Year 2021 when significant modeling errors led to the over-release of an estimated 700,000 acre-feet of water or roughly 228 billions of gallons of water were wastefully released into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta at times when it had no discernible positive impacts for people or wildlife. This wasted water would have proved invaluable as the predicted runoff fell vastly short of expectations. The adverse impacts of this critical error by the state led the price paid for water to rise significantly across Californians. 

Read the Auditor’s report at the link below:

Department of Water Resources: Its Forecasts Do Not Adequately Account for Climate Change and Its Reasons for Some Reservoir Releases Are Unclear

2022-106.pdf (