Water is California’s lifeblood, feeding Central Valley farmlands, inviting Malibu lawns and gardens to grow and cooling Silicon Valley data centers. It spurs the state’s diverse ecosystem, allowing for an economy and production exported all across the U.S.

California’s secret suffering — a record-breaking, five-year drought — has become irreversibly visible in recent years, as the impact of dwindling water levels, population growth, aging infrastructure and climate change strain the state’s access to fresh water. All of California is in “severe drought” or worse, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Companies are feeling both the responsibility and the effects of the drought, but it’s not a problem they can tackle alone. The U.S.’s third-largest state is the world’s sixth-largest economy, meaning California’s business sector is critically involved in the health of its waterways. This month 20 organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, investors and NGOs, announced their support for four projects protecting California’s water resources as part of the California Water Action Collaborative.

The CWAC was formed in May 2014 as a working group that brought together industrial and environmental organizations connected by a desire to collaborate towards meeting California’s unique local and state water challenges.

“Companies are feeling both the responsibility and the effects of the drought, but it’s not a problem they can tackle alone.”

Now, the group is a formal coalition with a membership including Ag Capital Management, Ag Innovations, Anheuser-Busch, Alliance for Water Stewardship, Campbell Soup Company, the CEO Water Mandate, the Coca-Cola Company, Driscoll’s, Ecolab, Future 500, General Mills, MillerCoors, The National Forest Foundation, Nestlé, OLAM, Pacific Institute, Sustainable Conservation, Sustainable Food Lab, the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund.

“MillerCoors […] recognizes that water is critical to life, nature, communities and business,” said Jonah Smith, sustainability manager at MillerCoors, in a statement. “California is experiencing one of its worst droughts, and collaboration that truly focuses on collective action is an impactful and necessary way to address the state’s water resource issues.”

The CWAC has three goals:

“Water in California is ground zero for considering how we will meet the needs of people, business and nature in a crowded world and in dry times,” said Brian Stranko, the Nature Conservancy’s California water program director. “CWAC provides a forum for the industry, non-profits and leading thinkers to take a big picture view of how we achieve a sustainable water future, as well as a conduit for testing ideas in real places on the ground right now to inform that future.”

The CWAC is relying on the following four projects to make sure California’s water future is bright.

  1. Farmland Groundwater Recharge
    In San Joaquin Valley, Sustainable Conservation is deepening groundwater supplies, which provide 30 percent of California’s usable water in normal years and up to 60 percent in drought years. As extended drought forces Central Valley farms and communities to turn to shrinking groundwater supplies, record amounts of farmland simply have been left idle.

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