Reimagining our Water System: Utilizing Natural Infrastructure— Healthy Headwaters

Tuesday, Oct 29th, 2019

The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) and water leaders in Northern California have appreciated the opportunity to engage with the Newsom Administration and our many partners to help develop and then implement a water resilience portfolio that meets the needs of California’s communities, economy, and environment through the 21st century.”

Building on the Governor’s call to “utilize natural infrastructure,” there are unique opportunities in the Sacramento River Basin to enhance and expand utilization of natural infrastructure for multiple benefits, including our forested headwaters.

The forests and meadows of the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range and Cascade Mountains are the source waters for much of the Sacramento River Basin and the State of California. Healthy headwaters ensure increased water supply reliability, improved water quality, reduced impacts from catastrophic wildfires, increased renewable energy supplies, enhanced habitat and improved response to climate change and extreme weather.

Responsible and active forest management is a foundational element of these efforts. Examples of these management activities we can build upon include the Placer County Water Agency’s French Meadows Forest Restoration Program in the American River watershed and the Yuba Water Agency’s pioneering efforts to finance watershed restoration activities through Forest Resilience Bonds.

These programs are leading examples of innovative, collaborative, and replicable models for improving the health of our forested headwaters, consistent with the water resilience portfolio’s principles of prioritizing multi-benefit approaches, utilizing natural infrastructure, and encouraging regional approaches in watersheds.

Our blog on natural infrastructure, such as healthy headwaters, is part of a series that presents our ideas on the critical elements for a water resilience portfolio from a Sacramento River Basin perspective. Through this series, we are seeking your thoughts and ideas (see below) that will help the Sacramento River Basin provide meaningful contributions to the water resilience portfolio and the actions that will help advance a 21st Century water management system for California. We use the principles in the Governor’s Executive Order as the starting point for our discussions and offer these ideas as a roadmap for resilience we believe will add value to California’s water management system. We welcome additional ideas and thoughts to make these contributions more effective. Please provide any thoughts or ideas to

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