hose with water running

How California Can Solve Its Water Crisis With Existing Water

December 26, 2019
By Heather Cooley
ComStock’s Magazine

Californians have made real strides to conserve over the past several decades. San Francisco and Los Angeles use the same amount (or less) water today as they did 30 years ago, despite substantial growth.

California has a chance to model what a truly resilient water system looks like, combining nature and technology to make the most of every drop and dollar. Just as we are doing in the energy sector, we should be focusing on no-regrets water projects that make economic and environmental sense. 

Click here to read the full article.

(Photo: Pixabay via Pexels)

Water Forum II Update Effort

Updated January 5, 2020

ECOS and Habitat 2020 are part of the Water Forum update effort.

The year 2021 will see a lot of activity including discussions and formulation of new Water Forum Agreement language. The following chart prepared by the Water Forum staff lays out the issue topics and the Water Forum Agreement update schedule for the coming year. The foundational learning sessions conducted in 2020 were recorded and can be viewed by accessing the Water Forum website. This year, the issues focused Work Groups (WG) will be developing any specific language changes to the existing Water Forum Agreement. Proposed changes will be discussed in Caucus and Plenary sessions before their eventual ratification by the Water Forum Agreement Signatories. You can follow the progress of the potential modifications to the Water Forum Agreement on the Water Forum website.

To support deliberations, a series of learning sessions were held in July and August 2020 to provide current and potential Water Forum signatories with information to promote a shared understanding of several cross-cutting topics: climate change, fisheries, habitat, groundwater management, and urban water management planning (including demand management, water use efficiency and conservation). An additional educational session on the management of the American River Watershed was held in the fall of 2020. Summaries of these sessions can be found on the Water Forum web site.

The year 2021 will see a lot of Water Forum update activity including discussions and formulation of new Water Forum II Agreement language. The Water Forum II Draft Timeline, prepared by the Water Forum staff, lays out the issue topics and the Water Forum Agreement update schedule for the coming year. This year, issue focused Work Groups (WG) will be developing specific language changes to the existing Water Forum Agreement. Proposed changes will be discussed in Caucus and Plenary sessions before their eventual ratification by the Water Forum Agreement Signatories. You can follow the progress of the potential modifications to the Water Forum Agreement on the Water Forum Web site link above.

The document The Water Forum Past, Present, and Future provides a cogent summary of the history of the Water Forum Agreement, what has happened over the course of the past 20 years that may result in the need for the Agreement’s updating, and what future impacts the region is likely to face and how an updated Agreement will help the region adapt to these changes.

The Water Forum is composed of four caucuses – Environmental, Public interests, Water Purveyors, and Business. ECOS and Habitat 2020 members as well as other environmental groups are represented on the Environmental Caucus. As a prelude to the learning sessions and upcoming negotiation discussions, each caucus developed a Statement of Interests to clarify its intentions and interests in a renegotiated Water Forum Agreement. Access to the Environmental Caucus Statement of interest is possible through this link.

There are a significant number of ECOS members who are actively involved with the Water Forum and this renegotiation effort. If you have questions about the Water Forum or its programs, please contact the Water Forum’s Executive Director, Jessica Law. Questions about the Environmental Caucus Statement of Interests can be directed to Habitat 2020.

Implementing California’s Groundwater Sustainability Plan in Sacramento County

November 11, 2019

ECOS and Habitat 2020 have submitted the following letter to the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority regarding their application to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program. ECOS/Habitat 2020 look forward to participating with the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority in the implementation of the Grant Proposal and the ongoing efforts to develop a Groundwater Sustainability Plan for the South American Subbasin in Sacramento County.

Ramon Roybal
Assistant Engineer
Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority
827 7th Street Room 301
Sacramento CA, 95814

Subject: South American Subbasin Prop 68 Round 3 Grant Proposal for Evaluating GDEs and Surface Water Depletions (Grant Proposal)
Dear Mr. Roybal,
The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to achieve regional and community sustainability and a healthy environment for existing and future residents. ECOS member organizations include: 350 Sacramento, Breathe California Sacramento Region, Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, International Dark-Sky Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento Chapter, Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association, Environmental Democrats of Sacramento County, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, Sacramento Audubon Society, Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Sacramento Vegetarian Society, Save Our Sandhill Cranes, Save the American River Association, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1000 and the Sierra Club Sacramento Group.
Members of Habitat 2020, a committee of ECOS, include: Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, Friends of Swainson’s Hawk, International Dark-Sky Association Sacramento Chapter, Sacramento Area Creeks Council, Sacramento Audubon Society, Sacramento Valley Chapter California Native Plant Society, Save Our Sandhill Cranes, Save the American River Association, Sierra Club Sacramento Group and Sacramento Heron and Egret Rescue.
We want to express our thanks for the opportunity to review and comment on the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority’s (SCGA) Grant Proposal. We are very concerned about how the South American Subbasin’s (Subbasin) Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDE) and Groundwater/Surface Water Interfaces (GWI) are identified, evaluated, and managed as part of SCGA’s development and administration of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) for the Subbasin. We commend SCGA for opening its grant development process to include public comment. We are encouraged by this action and look forward to working with SCGA and the other Subbasin GSAs in implementing the grant’s workplan. In addition, in the coming months we look forward to working with all parties to develop a GSP for the South American Subbasin (SAS).
We support the overall workplan proposed in the Grant Proposal. Specifically we endorse the workplan’s support for the completion of the numerical integrated groundwater surface water CoSANA model. We support the technical approach proposed for the identification and analysis of GDEs and GWIs. Finally, we support and commend SCGA for the identified efforts to include public input throughout the project. SCGA has included the potential formation of a Cosumnes Surface Water Group if such a group is found useful by those concerned and affected by decisions in the region. We see this group playing an important role in the analysis of the river basin and riparian forested areas and agricultural lands. We also endorse the workplan’s inclusion of and call for cross-basin coordination between each of the subbasins that share a river boundary
Finally, we urge both the South American Subbasin and the Cosumnes Subbassin GSAs to work with their common stakeholders to establish the lower Cosumnes River basin as a “Management Area”  under SGMA in each Subbasin’s GSP. This designation will allow the lower Cosumnes River basin’s critical resources to be managed effectively.
ECOS/Habitat 2020 look forward to participating with SCGA in the implementation of the Grant Proposal and the ongoing efforts to develop a GSP for the Subbasin.  
Sincerely,
Rob Burness and Sean Wirth, Co-chairs of Habitat 2020

Click here to view the letter in PDF.

Comments re American River Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan Update

On January 11, 2019, the Environmental Council of Sacramento and Habitat 2020, sent comments regarding the 2018 update of the American River Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan.

Below is the content of our letter in full.


Richard M. Johnson (Sent via email to johnsonr[at]saccounty[dot]net)
Executive Director of Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency
1007 7th St, 7th floor
Sacramento 95814

Subject: 2018 update of the American River Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan

Dear Mr. Johnson,

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS), a 501c3 organization, and Habitat 2020, the Conservation Committee of ECOS, are partner coalitions dedicated to protecting the natural resources of the greater Sacramento region while building healthier, more equitable, economically thriving communities. ECOS-Habitat 2020 member organizations include: 350 Sacramento, AARP, Breathe California-Sacramento Emigrant Trails, Friends of Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, International Dark-Sky Association, Los Rios College Federation of Teachers, Mutual Housing California, Physicians for Social Responsibility Sacramento Chapter, Sacramento Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association, Sacramento Green Democrats, Sacramento Housing Alliance, Sacramento Natural Foods Coop, Sacramento Audubon Society, Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, Sacramento Vegetarian Society, Save Our Sandhill Cranes, Save the American River Association, Sierra Club Sacramento Group, Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk, and the Sacramento Area Creeks Council.

We are heartened by the extensive work the Sacramento Area Flood Control Authority (SAFCA) and the Regional Water Authority (RWA) are doing to improve the Sacramento Region’s water reliability, security, and flood protection. The 2018 update of the American River Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (“Plan”) includes SAFCA’s efforts to improve Regional flood control, provide for storm water management, and develop excess storm water recharge opportunities all in the face of increasing storm intensity and frequency due to the impacts of climate change. We are especially interested in SAFCA’s efforts to develop and promote the potential beneficial uses of excess storm water that moves down both the American and Cosumnes Rivers. Like SAFCA, we would like to see some of this water captured to restore aquifer levels and stored in the Region’s Subbasins for future use during periods of drought. SAFCA is commended for its success in securing the financial resources required to carry out its programs and projects in this vitally important area of flood protection.

We understand that one of the next steps to acquiring this excess storm water recharge resource is to complete a thorough analysis of where within the Region the prime recharge and extraction zones are located. This analysis should include the area(s) compatibility with existing land usage and water management/conveyance constraints. We understand that Dr. Graham Fogg of UC Davis is preparing a project plan to carry out this analysis and that SAFCA has already held discussions with the Cosumnes Subbasin GSAs on this same topic. A project or projects to carry out this work in both the South American and the Cosumnes Subbasins should be a high priority for inclusion within the Plan, and again, we hope that SAFCA will take a leadership role in working with the UC Davis Water Group and the appropriate GSAs to fund this important work.

We understand that RWA is preparing to engage in a public awareness campaign to convey to elected officials, agency decision makers, opinion leaders, and the public, the importance of the projects and activities identified in the Plan and how they lay out a prudent path for the region’s water future. SAFCA’s efforts will certainly be prominently featured in this public outreach effort. We hope to participate with SAFCA and RWA in this campaign. ECOS/Habitat 2020 represents most of the environmental and community-based groups in the Region and has strong ties with conservation and other public interest groups as well.

We note with keen interest the efforts SAFCA and others are making to work with the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority (SCGA) and the Cosumnes Subbasin Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to join with the North American Subbasin GSAs to develop and adopt a comprehensive American River Basin descriptive modeling system (SacIWRM). The region wide adoption of SacIWRM will ensure accurate accounting and impact assessment of both recharge and pumping operations and accurately describe the flows and elevations of groundwater through and between each Subbasin. The SacIWRM will enable each Subbasin’s GSAs to adopt Subbasin management plans that are capable of responding to delayed changes within the Subbasin due to pumping and recharge operations, and respond to GDE and other triggers requiring GSA actions. We understand that SAFCA has volunteered to pay the additional costs the Cosumnes Subbasin GSAs will incur to ensure SacIWRM meets the Cosumnes Subbasin needs. We strongly hope that that the Cosumnes Subbasin GSAs will adopt the SacIWRM model and, if needed, accept SAFCA’s generous financial offer. We will engage with SAFCA and RWA in any way practical to assist in accomplishing this objective.

ECOS/Habitat 2020 stand ready to work collaboratively with SAFCA to communicate the importance of regional water security including appropriate storm water management, recharge, and flood protection; and the plans and projects that best lead the region toward this goal. We stand ready to meet with you and your staff to further explore these points and how we may assist in your Agency’s efforts to effect a comprehensive water security investment that can actually benefit the environment. If need be, please contact Robert Burness at rmburness[at]comcast[dot]net or 916-956-0365.
Sincerely,

Robert C. Burness
Co-chair of Habitat 2020

Ralph Propper
Board President of ECOS

CC via email: Tim Washburn, Director of Planning, SAFCA, washburnr[at]saccounty[dot]net


Read the letter in PDF by clicking here.

Monitoring Groundwater in Sacramento County

October 12, 2018

The South American Subbasin is located in the central portion of Sacramento County. It is primarily managed by the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority (SCGA).

ECOS believes that Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority’s understanding of the hydrology of the Subbasin should be measurably improved, and we have written a letter suggesting some ways to achieve that. Below is an excerpt of our letter.

The Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) notes with interest the Sacramento Central Groundwater Authority (SCGA) Board’s September 12, 2018 direction to Staff to evaluate the State of California’s C2VSimFG model input data for the South American Subbasin (Subbasin) and update the State’s model data as necessary. We believe that SCGA’s understanding of the hydrology of the Subbasin should be measurably improved. SCGA should look to the modeling and monitory efforts underway by the Regional Water Authority and the Sacramento Groundwater Authority (SGA), and adopt and put in place a comprehensive and compatible monitoring program for the Subbasin.

We also believe the Board acted with imprudence when it recently adopted its operating budget for the upcoming year, in that, among other issues, the Board did not provide enough funding for groundwater monitoring and modeling. SCGA’s existing set of monitoring wells is insufficient to provide a full understanding of the flows of groundwater into, through and out of the Subbasin. Semiannual data points are not sufficient to understand and effectively manage the Subbasin. While we commend SCGA’s recent effort to provide real time monitoring in a small, select group of wells, we believe you should do far more in this important area.

Click here to read the full letter (PDF).

Ground Water Recharge

Ground Water Recharge: A Pathway Toward Regional Environmental Improvement and Water Supply Security

Presentation to ECOS Board 
September 25, 2018 at 6 PM

The current and future water supply security for residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and conservation landowner customers in the Sacramento Region (Region) appears to be satisfactory when one reviews the water supply assessments contained in each of the Region’s water purveyors’ Urban Water Management Plans. However, some of these plans do not fully address the implications of climate change on the future availability of water supplies. The recent drought has shown limitations in some of the Region’s water supply systems, and climate scientists predict the frequency and severity of droughts will increase. The State Legislature has moved to ensure the increased frequency and severity of droughts along with other weather changes due to climate change, are planned for in future Urban Water Management Planning cycles. A more comprehensive understanding of the reliability of the Region’s water supplies will be known, once the impact of the Region’s changing climate is fully understood and planned for by all Regional water purveyors.

“Ground Water Recharge: A pathway toward Regional Environmental Improvement and Water Supply Security” Briefing Paper, September 2018

Read more of the briefing paper by clicking here (PDF).

Click here for the full meeting agenda.