California River Awards

Friends of the River – California River Awards – 2014 Mark Dubois Honoree

WBA staff member, Cheryl Buckwalter, was one of the distinguished honorees this year for the Mark Dubois award – Friends of the River. Congratulations Cheryl!
 Water Management
“Our second honoree is a true leader in landscape water conservation, a sector that accounts for more than half of total urban water use.

Cheryl Buckwalter has dedicated herself personally and professionally to helping Californians grow beautiful “River Friendly” landscapes that use minimal water and reduce runoff. With her experience as a landscape designer and Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, Cheryl is taking on America’s largest irrigated crop: lawn grass.

Today, as the Executive Director of Eco Landscape California, Cheryl is transforming landscapes to need little or no irrigation, greatly reducing the amount of water we need to pull out of rivers and aquifers. Cheryl provides practical, user-friendly training, plans, referrals, and outreach to help Californians create healthy, beautiful, vibrant urban landscapes while conserving water, reducing yard waste, and preventing pollution of our air and rivers. She developed Eco-Friendly Landscape Design Plans for the New California Landscape—a free, on-line “package” of landscape and irrigation designs, comprehensive plant profiles, irrigation schedules, and maintenance practices to demonstrate watershed-based models for sustainability, resource-efficiency and protection, and environmental stewardship.

Her work has resulted in homeowners and municipalities implementing low-water use landscapes across central California. Cheryl has collaborated with countless agencies, land developers, and non-profit organizations to teach about, and implement, water-efficient landscaping including Roseville’s “Cash for Grass” landscape incentive program

The drought has greatly expanded her audience as her work has been widely reported by media outlets throughout the state. She is now leveraging this exposure and her experience to accelerate the pace of change toward more sustainable landscapes across the state.”

March For Water

California Water Year 2014 Among Driest Years on Record

California’s water year 2014 – which ended Sept. 30 – will go down as one of the driest years in the state’s recorded history, resulting in a dismally low 5% of water deliveries from the State Water Project and thousands of acres of cropland idled, according to newly released figures from the California Department of Water Resources.

Water year 2014 is ending with less than 60% of average precipitation and is the third consecutive year the state has battled record low precipitation. It is the fourth driest year on record exceeded only by 1977, 1924 and 1931. As a result of the lack of rain, on Sept.1 the state’s major reservoirs collectively held only 57% of average storage for the date, or about 36% of capacity, according to DWR figures.

Forecasts are unclear as to whether 2015 will bring more rain. The federally run Central Valley Project has reduced deliveries down to zero for some junior rights holders.

“The immediate certainty is that day-to-day conservation – wise, sparing use of water – is essential as we face the possibility of a fourth dry winter,” DWR Director Mark Cowin said in a prepared statement.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency in January and called for a 20% reduction in water use. Water agencies up and down the state have responded to the call for conservation, adopting mandatory water restrictions and ramping up their conservation messaging. Many communities have exceeded the 20% reduction in water usage over last year’s figures.

Still, some communities are scrambling for drinking water and on September 19, the Governor streamlined the delivery of water to families in need.

Many experts believe the deepening drought has increased the severity of the fire season, with fires spreading more rapidly and farther due to dry conditions.

Officials with DWR note that while cumulative reservoir storage in 1977 – California’s driest year on record – was approximately five million acre-feet less than today, the state’s population has increased dramatically since that time so the state’s water now must serve far more people.

DWR and the Association of California Water Agencies urge all Californians to conserve water by following the advice and tips found at

DWR’s California Data Exchange Center websites show current water conditions at the state’s largest reservoirs and weather stations.