REACTIONS to the Governor’s draft water resilience portfolio.

Last Friday, the Newsom administration released the long-awaited Water Resilience Portfolio with over 100 specific actions across four broad categories.  Here’s what organizations had to say, listed in alphabetical order:

From the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta:

The Newsom Administration’s highly anticipated Water Resilience Portfolio presents an impressive suite of actions that will certainly advance California water management. The Natural Resources Agency, CalEPA, and California Department of Food & Agriculture’s plan offers new opportunities to improve the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem through enhanced monitoring and incorporation of adaptive management based on the best available science, enhance conveyance and storage, and address the impacts of climate change.

“The Coalition for a Sustainable Delta remains concerned, however, that the portfolio fails to address the growing impacts of water scarcity on rural farming communities throughout the Central Valley of California. While the portfolio recognizes land fallowing resulting from implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and increasingly limited surface water supplies, it stops short of providing real solutions to address the impacts to residents, farms and small businesses that depend on reliable water supplies,” said Bill Phillimore, Coalition for a Sustainable Delta President. “The state needs to provide more concrete solutions to a problem that will have far reaching impacts on millions who live and work in these regions.”

From Maurice Hall at the Environmental Defense Fund:

“EDF is encouraged to see the Newsom administration lean in to build climate resilience into California’s overtaxed water supply system. The draft water resilience portfolio released today has an appropriate emphasis on ensuring all Californians have access to clean drinking water and puts forth an ambitious agenda that balances the many uses of California’s water, including enhancing and protecting the fish and wildlife that depend on our streams, rivers and wetlands. We look forward to working with the administration to strengthen the environmental measures outlined in the portfolio and then quickly moving forward to implement the highest priorities.”

From the Sacramento Regional Groundwater Authority, Sacramento Groundwater Authority, the Water Forum, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency:

Regional organizations that provide water supply, flood protection, groundwater management and ecosystem restoration in the American River watershed today applauded the findings and recommended actions presented in Governor Gavin Newsom’s draft Water Resilience Portfolio, the state’s first-ever comprehensive and long-term plan on how to manage the state’s water resources in the face of climate change. The report recommends developing inclusive solutions that protect the natural and human environment and provide water for our communities. The greater Sacramento region has been at the forefront of this approach for decades.

The Regional Water Authority, Sacramento Groundwater Authority, Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency, and Water Forum are committed to continuing to collaborate with each other and its state and federal government partners to advance long-term, regional planning and projects to maintain and diversify supplies, protect and enhance natural systems, and build more connected, adaptive water management infrastructure to be prepared for more extreme weather and less predictable precipitation patterns.

“Our region has long been preparing to address the impacts from climate change on our water resources at a watershed scale. We believe the water resilience portfolio findings are fully aligned with the solutions we have been developing,” said Jim Peifer, executive director for the Regional Water Authority and Sacramento Groundwater Authority. “The region’s climate adaptation portfolio re-imagines how water should be managed in the face of a less reliable water supply and a greater flood threat that is expected from reduced snowpack and flashier rainstorms in a narrower wet season. While these challenges are real and daunting, we know our holistic approach will solve them.”

“Through the Water Forum, our region has a 20-year track record of applying science and innovative management practices to balance water supply reliability with ecosystem health on the lower American River,” said Tom Gohring, executive director of the Water Forum. “The governor’s report underscores that our region can take this same, collaborative approach to building climate resiliency through new projects and practices that make our water management more adaptive and nimble in the face of changing weather conditions.”

“Climate change is posing a serious challenge to the sustainability of the water management system that we currently rely on to control flooding, meet our water demands and protect the American River,” said Rick Johnson, executive director for the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency. “SAFCA brings a unique perspective and years of experience in addressing this challenge and looks forward to working with the Newsom Administration and our federal and regional partners in taking the bold steps that are needed to make our system more climate-resilient.”

Over the past two decades, more than $4 billion has been invested in our region in partnership with state, federal, private and other local partners to restore habitat, increase our water use efficiency, expand conjunctive use, reduce our flood risk, and expand the flexibility of the system to adapt to periods of increased drought and serious flood threat.

The regional agencies pointed to the following initiatives that will further build climate resiliency in the American River watershed by enhancing flood protection, diversifying water supplies, allowing for adaptive management practices and promoting species health on the lower American River. All of them will require significant investment from state, federal and regional agencies.

Sacramento Regional Water Bank: The Water Bank is an innovative groundwater storage program that will improve water supply reliability and environmental conditions for the Sacramento region. It utilizes a groundwater reservoir that would have about two times the amount of storage space as Folsom Lake.  The bank could enable the region to cut groundwater use in half during wet years through capture of excess surface water and provide an additional groundwater supply during dry years, benefiting the environment and downstream communities beyond the region.

Sacramento River Arc: This project will transform regional water supply by shifting of portion of the municipal supplies away from the American River and toward the Sacramento River. It will better connect the region’s conveyance, treatment and groundwater storage to an existing diversion point on the Sacramento River. Doing so will continue a long-standing regional commitment to protect the aquatic habitat of the lower American River, while at the same time providing needed water supply reliability. It will increase opportunities for groundwater banking and allow for changed Folsom Reservoir operations to accommodate a changing climate. More flexibility in Folsom Reservoir operations will give state and federal water managers another tool for managing Delta water quality.

Ecosystem Restoration: The investments and collaborative work undertaken by the Water Forum have provided new models and approaches to balancing co-equal goals for water management, including optimal reservoir operations, monitoring biological conditions and constructing improved habitat. This work can be enhanced with additional state investments in planning and development of habitat and cold-water infrastructure.

Sacramento Area Flood Risk Reduction and Managed Aquifer Recharge: SAFCA is working to increase flood storage capacity in non-federal reservoirs upstream from Folsom Reservoir by using advances in weather and runoff forecasting and modifying the outlet works of these upstream facilities. The increase of atmospheric river events and reduction in snowmelt runoff throughout the winter and spring provides opportunities to leverage system capacity, thereby reducing pressure on Folsom Reservoir and downstream levees, enhancing habitat flows on the American and Cosumnes rivers and redirecting flood flows for groundwater recharge in the south American and Cosumnes basins.

Yolo Bypass Integrated Multi-Benefit Program: This SAFCA-sponsored project is designed to improve ecosystem and flood management system resiliency in the lower Sacramento River by enlarging the Yolo Bypass through levee setbacks and using the floodplain to improve fish passage, expanding fish rearing habitat by inundating the floodplain, and improving terrestrial habitat in the floodplain.

Upper Watershed and Forestry Management: Climate change adaptation must include ensuring healthy headwaters. California faces the overwhelming challenge of overstocked and unhealthy forests, where the consequences are unnecessary evapotranspiration, ecosystems being out of balance, and catastrophic fire, resulting in long-term harm to our environment and water supply. Through projects implemented under multi-stakeholder collaboration, selective thinning of small and medium sized trees, burn treatments and targeted reforestation of climate resilient trees will ensure a healthy future in California headwaters. The targeted outcome is forests that are naturally resilient and better for water supply and natural habitat.

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) is a joint powers authority representing 21 water providers serving 2 million people in the greater Sacramento region. Formed in 2001, its primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources. Learn more at rwah2o.org. 

The Sacramento Groundwater Authority (SGA) is a joint powers authority formed in 1998 to manage the Sacramento County’s north area groundwater basin. Recognized as essential to implementing the groundwater management element of the historic Water Forum Agreement, SGA coordinates the regional program to manage and conjunctively use groundwater and surface water to meet water needs through 2030 while reducing diversions from the lower American River to benefit the environment. Learn more at sgah2o.org. 

The Sacramento Water Forum is a diverse group of business and agricultural leaders, citizen groups, environmentalists, water managers and local governments working together to balance two co-equal objectives: to provide a reliable and safe water supply for the Sacramento region’s long-term growth and economic health; and to preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River. Learn more at waterforum.org.  

The Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA) is a joint powers authority that was formed in 1989 to provide the Sacramento region with increased flood protection along the American and Sacramento rivers.  Its members include the City of Sacramento, Sacramento County, Sutter County, Reclamation District No. 1000 and the American River Flood Control District. Learn more at safca.or

From the State Water Contractors:

Today, the California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA), California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) released a draft water resilience portfolio detailing their recommendations to bolster California’s long-term water resiliency and ecosystem health. The draft was developed in response to Governor Newsom’s April 29 executive order calling for a portfolio of actions that may be taken to help meet the future water needs of California’s fish and wildlife as well as the millions of people that depend on a reliable water source every day to run their homes, farms and businesses. There is a wealth of information in the portfolio and its appendices and we will continue our review.

However, we are pleased to see that many of the suggestions provided in the State Water Contractors comment letter on September 5, 2019 have been included in the portfolio, including upgrading infrastructure to improve conveyance and investing in existing infrastructure management and maintenance to address the impacts of climate change and population growth among other challenges — while protecting the Delta ecosystems.

“The draft portfolio released today recognizes the importance of building a water supply that is more sustainable and more resilient to the increasing impacts of climate change. We stand behind the state’s commitment to address the important issues facing the Bay-Delta and our state, including the need to complete a voluntary agreement and modernize conveyance, as a part of a broad package of local and regional water actions to benefit all Californians,” said Jennifer Pierre, General Manager of the State Water Contractors. “If we are to meet the challenges ahead, we must work quickly and collaboratively, basing management actions and decisions on the best available science.”

 

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