The forests and meadows of the Sierra Nevada, Coast Range and Cascade Mountains are the source waters for much of the Sacramento Valley 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.

Two agencies in Northern California showcase the efforts underway for healthy headwaters and watersheds. Placer County Water Agency’s French Meadows Restoration Project can be seen in this video. The Yuba Water Agency also a forest health program. See a Public Policy Institute of California interview with Yuba Water Agency General Manager Curt Aikens on watershed management.

The California Forest Watershed Alliance, in partnership with ACWA, also produced this video to educate the public on headwaters issues. The video explores the impact uncontrolled wildfires have on water quality, and includes an interview with Placer County Water Agency about the impacts of the 2014 King Fire.

In February 2015, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) developed Improving the Resiliency of California’s Headwaters – A Framework, which makes specific recommendations designed to create more resilient water resources through effective headwaters management.

Developed by ACWA’s Headwaters Framework Working Group, the policy document details the role that headwaters play in California’s water management system, outlines the benefits of healthy headwaters, identifies current challenges and provides a brief history of headwaters management.

Additionally, the Water Education Foundation has developed a booklet to show the value of water, our most precious resource, and the importance of the Sierra Nevada region in providing water for California. The information is based on the report Looking to the Source: Watersheds of the Sierra Nevada by the Water Education Foundation.