Photo: The Toulumne River flooding its banks in February.
Farmers, cities, water districts and environmental advocacy groups throughout California are waiting for Governor Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board to announce the end of the drought and the start of new water use regulations.
At stake are reduced water supplies if the state board mandates higher river flows to support spawning salmon and the wetlands that benefit juvenile salmon on their downstream migration to the ocean. And cities and water districts are concerned just how stringent the state board’s upcoming water conservation regulations — “Water Conservation as a Way of Life in California” — will be.
What’s interesting, however, are the farmers, cities, water districts and environmental advocacy groups that aren’t waiting for the state board. They are collaborating — bringing scientific expertise and research capabilities together with local knowledge — to develop solutions at the watershed level. They are also bringing into question whether regulation or cooperation is the most effective approach to California’s water issues.
San Francisco and Central Valley farmers
The city of San Francisco and Central Valley farmers have formed an unusual alliance and are proposing their own plan to restore the salmon population and wetlands on the Toulumne River.
Trout Unlimited and Sonoma Valley landowners
In the Sonoma Valley, Trout Unlimited and the Sonoma Ecology Center are working with landowners to increase increase flow in Sonoma Creek for Chinook Salmon and Steelhead.
Environmental Defense Fund and Central Valley farmers
And the Environmental Defense Fund is collaborating with Central Valley farmers on a new program to develop water markets that pay farmers for allocating land and water to habitat restoration projects benefiting salmon and river ecosystems.