SRWP is at a crossroads of helping to find common ground for the competing interests of water in northern California, balancing municipal and industrial water supply, agriculture, environment, recreation, power production, and flood management needs. Beyond the traditional water dialogue we are working to bring other water-affecting issues into the conversation including fire and fuels management. Our staff and board are passionate, dedicated, and focused and yearning to usher our program into a new era of broad-based support.
Effective management of California’s water resources is a persistent issue despite ongoing efforts to improve governance and integration. A recent report from the Public Policy Institute of California (see note below) suggests that California’s current system for governing and funding water management lacks the authority and information to manage water shortages and that “coordination failures among state and federal agencies have led to inefficiencies in reservoir operations, ecosystem management, and water marketing, among others.”
There is an immense need for projects that improve watershed health and result in multiple benefits that increase the region’s resiliency to the impacts of drought and flood events along with a desire and need to demonstrate the linkages between the landscape and management in upstream areas and impacts on downstream water availability, quality, and inundation. Information, communication and cooperation are necessary to ensure consistency, allow for more efficient use of limited staff and budgets, reduce conflicts, and free up resources that can be invested in programs and projects aimed at achieving positive environmental benefits. As a result, the SRWP is partnering with key stakeholders to cooperatively develop a regional program in the Sacramento River Watershed to reduce the effects of flooding and drought.
Developing a sustainable infrastructure, social support, and long-term funding commitments is necessary to implement large-scale protection and health of the Watershed. SRWP will establish a formal partnership that will assist in the development and implementation of the Sacramento River Watershed Resiliency Project. The Partnership will review and inventory resources and their relevant attributes and develop and apply a vetting process to identify and rank priority areas and resource management needs. This effort will leverage and incorporate previous and current projects and provide the latest knowledge and tools to improve stakeholders’ ability to identify and address resource issues at a watershed scale. Priority will be placed on projects, programs, and events that address multiple watershed issues and fulfill local, state and federal objectives including components of an established watershed or source water plan or similar guiding document.
Effective watershed management conserves and enhances fundamental resources while providing for the needs of people and ecosystems and it requires cooperation and communication. Collaboration requires a great deal of work and unfortunately this type of work is sometimes marginalized and often not easy to finance. We hope that our endeavor to engage a diverse group of stakeholders in pre-project planning and develop broad financial and political support from federal, regional and local sources will result in the implementation of unified and complimentary management goals throughout the watershed.
If you are interested in learning more about this effort, please contact Holly Jorgensen at [email protected] or (530) 781-2220.
Note 1. Public Policy Institute of California's "Managing California’s Water: From Conflict to Reconciliation" report: Executive Summary and Full Report.