Freshwater Ecosystem Budgets

Thursday, Dec 5th, 2019

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) Water Center today published a new report on A Path Forward for California’s Freshwater Ecosystems. We think there is much to learn from this report and recommend a close reading.

The water resources managers in the Sacramento River Basin have engaged with the PPIC and are exploring ways to apply new and innovative approaches in the region, particularly how to more effectively integrate freshwater ecosystem budgets into our multi-benefit water management approaches.

The water resources managers will continue to undertake programs and actions to help prepare for extreme weather and the inevitable dry periods (see Planning for a Dry Year). In the Sacramento River Basin, we have learned from recent experience that planning in advance to further develop and refine freshwater ecosystem budgets will be essential to serving water for multiple beneficial uses, particularly during drier years. Freshwater ecosystem budgets offer a new approach to integrate environmental water management into our water system to provide specific, targeted benefits rather than the old model of constraining water rights during critical periods with the hope that this action alone will save species. This new approach, in turn, will allow us to work collaboratively to evolve from reactive efforts to prevent species decline into a more proactive program to actively promote species recovery in a more comprehensive manner.

The document below provides an overview of the thinking in the Sacramento River Basin on how we can apply freshwater ecosystem budgets on the ground as part of the effort for multi-benefit water management. This includes making water available at the right time and place for birds (and the Pacific Flyway) and salmon recovery efforts. For each of these elements, there is supporting information and more details that we would welcome discussing with anyone interested. Please provide any thoughts or ideas to


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