Local Steps Toward California s Watershed Program

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1 Local Steps Toward California s Watershed Program Presented by Robert Meacher Plumas County Board of Supervisors Creating a Watershed Moment in a Watershed Movement Planning and Conservation League Legislative Symposium January 12, 2008

2 Feather River Watershed Collects water from 2 million acres, allowing Lake Oroville and State Water Project to generate 3.5 million acre-feet of firm yield each year for imported water users PG&E and DWR facilities have 1.5 million kw of installed generating capacity equivalent to San Onofre or Diablo Canyon, but with no decommissioning timeline

3 Watershed Challenges Flood, Fire, & Drought Climate change impacts in the Sacramento River Basin: Summer runoff decreased in all scenarios Winter runoff increased in all scenarios Peter Gleick, Water Resources Research Journal, Vol. 23, pp An event that used to be a 100-year flood becomes a 17-year flood in the 21st Century. (USGS modeled effects of climate change and increased storm intensity)

4 Proportion of Sacramento River runoff in spring and summer has declined from 44% to 33% over the last century

5 An increase in extreme weather will lead to higher winter river flows, runoff and flooding. - Department of Water Resources, June 2007

6 ...the number of large wildfires in the West was four times greater since 1986 than in the 16 years prior and... these fires affected 6.5 times more area across the entire region. - Gedalof and Westerling et al., 2006

7 Watershed Moments in the Local Movement Quincy Library Group 3 National Forests, 8 Counties (forest, fuels, and watershed management) Feather River Coordinated Resource Management Group Local, state, federal government, NGOs, private landowners (stream and meadow restoration) Upper Feather Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (County General Plan, Forest Plan, State Water Plan, SWRCB Basin Plan) Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

8 The Moment of Watershed Convergence Entangled Problems ~ Interdependent Stakeholders ~ Integrated Solutions Climate Change Fire Flood Watershed Drought Water Quality

9 Entangled Problems: Watershed Degradation In the Feather River Watershed we define watershed degradation as the loss of hydrologic function: Loss of groundwater-surface water connection Loss of floodplain connection Loss of vegetative structure in meadows/forests Loss of biological processes Loss of physical inputs Loss of chemical processes Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

10 Interdependent Stakeholders: Watershed Management Integrating land use and water use across jurisdictions, land ownerships, and beneficial uses of water. A consistent strategy to restore hydrologic function and biological connectivity across urban and rural landscapes and land uses. Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

11 Interdependent Stakeholders: Local Government s Watershed Role Plumas County encompasses 90% of the Upper Feather watershed 50% of the land base is owned by the Federal Government Plumas County is a State Water Project contractor and has a long-term interest in management of the SWP The County s role is to resolve institutional barriers to local watershed work (including state and federal barriers) Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

12 Moment of Convergence IRWM Plan and Strategic Implementation Projects Have: 1. Water Quantity Strategy 2. Water Quality Strategy... and at least one of the following watershed elements: Flood Control Strategy Groundwater Strategy Forest/Fire Management Strategy Temperature/Sediment Strategy Habitat Strategy Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

13 IRWM Landscape 90% Forest Uplands 10% Meadows, Lakes, Streams

14 IRWM Landscape Goal Restoration of 250,000 acres of degraded alluvial valleys Forest management enhancing upland recharge on 2 million acres while sequestering carbon Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

15 Degraded Pre-project Condition

16 Aerial of Typical Pre-Project Conditions

17 Deep gully Fast channel flow Pre-restoration More subsurface water storage Slow channel flow Post-restoration

18 Last Chance Creek, Alkali Flat, 2003

19 Last Chance Creek, Alkali Flat, May 2006

20 Last Chance Creek, Alkali Flat, 2005

21 Last Chance Creek, Alkali Flat, 2005 Outline, old Gully

22 Clarks Creek, July 2001

23 Clarks Creek, July 2006

24 Cottonwood Creek, Big Flat, 1994

25 Cottonwood Creek, Big Flat, 2006

26 Red Clover Creek, June 2006

27 Red Clover Creek, June 2007

28 Watershed/Uplands Management Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem? In 2007, the Moonlight and Antelope fires on the Plumas National Forest released 4 million tons of carbon dioxide ---equivalent to the annual emissions of 769,000 automobiles. Steve Brink, California Forestry Association

29 Local Ties to Statewide Problems Upper watershed actions generate local benefits: Reduce water temperatures Restore habitat Improve water quality Increase useable water yield... and also provide statewide benefits: Attenuate flood flows Reduced treatment costs Reduced infrastructure needs Increase operational flexibility (water/hydropower) Carbon sequestration Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

30 As communities throughout the West become more dependent upon each other to manage available resources, and as these resources prove to be interconnected in a myriad of ways, the competitive model of resource allocation is no longer prudent. Without open, collaborative dialogue among utilities and other stakeholders, competition for scarce water resources will only result in conflict, stalemate, and shortages. Pat Mulroy Southern Nevada Water Authority

31 Water and energy utilities are beginning to recognize the benefits of watershed management to mitigate current challenges, including climate change. Just as with any other source of uncertainty, best practice requires understanding as much as possible about the changes that can occur and their implications for operation and management of the utility. AWWA Research Foundation

32 The Watershed Moment Watershed Actions and Linkages to Statewide Priorities Necessitate a California Watershed Program Climate Change Fire Flood Watershed Drought Water Quality

33 Conclusion / Questions Conclusion & Questions Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

34 Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Lao Tzu, 6 th Century, B.C.

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