Water Plan Update

DWR Releases updated California Water Plan

After five years of preparation and significant input from stakeholders, the California Department of Water Resources today released its updated California Water Plan which places significant emphasis on integrated regional water management and multi-agency collaboration.

The voluminous document – dubbed Update 2013 due to its original expected date of completion – outlines the goals state water managers hope to see implemented in California’s water system through 2050. Among its top priorities is the implementation of Gov. Jerry Brown’s five-year California Water Action Plan. The update contains 300 specific actions to support the governor’s plan, which include expanding water storage capacity, providing safe drinking water and making conservation a way of life.

“When it comes to water our challenges are as diverse as our state of 38 million people,” said Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird in a conference call with reporters. “Right now we face one of the most extreme droughts in modern times.”

Laird added that the water plan update is “the most comprehensive guide to statewide water challenges and solutions.”

“We have never produced a plan before that has depended so heavily on the involvement of so many stakeholders,” said Laird.

The plan also focuses on the need for stable funding for investments in water innovation and infrastructure. According to the document, local entities such as water districts, cities, counties and utilities spend about $18 billion a year on water, as compared with the roughly $2 billion spent annually by the state and federal governments. Update 2013 predicts that California will need investments of $200 billion over the next few decades just to maintain its current system and about $500 billion to upgrade it.

ACWA participated in and helped coordinate water agency stakeholder input by serving on the DWR Public Advisory Committee, which helped inform the technical and policy landscape for the CA Water Plan.

Mark Cowin, director of DWR, said that the current drought is ‘testing the system” and the water plan “lays out a basic approach of improving the resiliency of our water system and facing future challenges.”

One of the key themes of the document is a call for increased intergovernmental collaboration from the federal, state and local levels as well as the integration of land use planning with water planning.

“California’s complex water system features federal and state water projects, hundreds of local water districts, large coastal cities, and vast tracts of farmland,” Cowin said in a prepared statement.  “To manage our water wisely, Californians need a shared understanding of our challenges and a vision for the future.  The California Water Plan Update 2013 delivers that and creates a path forward.”

Officials today released a ”highlights” booklet of the plan and its first three volumes. The remaining two volumes will be released in a few weeks.

Update 2013 includes summaries of over 30 water/resource management strategies available throughout California as well as a snapshot of regional water conditions and a range of future climate change scenarios.

The water plan is available here.

Water Plan Update

Statewide Reservoir Levels Continue to Decline

As the drought continues, California’s reservoir levels have dropped dramatically, especially in the state’s major reservoirs which currently sit at 43% of historical averages. While comparisons to the 1976 water year have been made, Department of Water Resources Chief Hydrologist Maury Roos says statewide conditions are more similar to those of the 1992 water year.

“It’s probably comparable with what it was at the end of 1992, the end of 1992 water year, which was a six year period of drought,” said Roos in an interview with Capitol Public Radio.

As of November 11, DWR figures show that major reservoir levels are as follows:

Reservoir % of Capacity % of Historical Average
San Luis Reservior 20% 36%
New Melones 21% 37%
Trinity Lake 23% 35%
Shasta Reservoir 24% 40%
Lake Oroville 26% 43%
Folsom Lake 30% 60%
Don Pedro Reservoir 37% 58%

According to DWR’s current data, Lake Oroville is currently at 915,220 acre-feet – which is only 33,200 acre-feet more than the record low-level of 882,000 acre-feet for the reservoir.

managing oak trees

DWR and UC Davis Encourage Homeowners to Prepare Trees for Dry Winter

DWR, UC Davis, Tree Foundation Encourage Homeowners to Prepare Trees for Dry Winter

California’s drought is having a visible impact on lawns throughout the state as homeowners reduce their outdoor watering. Lawns can be brought back to life relatively quickly, but once a tree dies, its loss is irreversible.

As the amount of sunlight falling on trees is reduced with the change in the seasons, trees go into dormancy and require less water than during the hot summer months. But in exceptionally dry conditions, a tree may not have enough stored moisture to survive California’s drought.

Representatives of the Sacramento Tree Foundation, California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at UC Davis, UC Cooperative Extension and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) agree that even a return of normal rainfall this winter might not sustain trees without special care and watering.

“We are seeing locations in California where trees are dying because they haven’t been watered adequately,” said CCUH Director Dave Fujino. “While homeowners are trying to save water by letting lawns die, they need to continue watering their nearby trees.”

Chuck Ingels, U.C. Cooperative Extension Horticulture Advisor, urged homeowners to follow these steps:

· Dig into the soil 6 to 8 inches at a tree’s drip line – the area immediately below the widest part of the leaf canopy; if the soil feels dry and crumbly, it needs water.

· Apply water slowly and uniformly using low-volume application equipment, such as a soaker hose that circles the tree at the drip line. Allow water to saturate the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches.

· Allow the soil to dry between waterings; for most mature trees, one or two deep waterings per month is adequate. Fewer waterings – and perhaps none – are needed during the cooler and potentially wet winter months.

· Add mulch (leaves or wood chips) between the trunk and drip line to retain the soil’s moisture.

· Reduce competition for water by removing weeds and grass within 4 feet of a tree’s trunk.

Anne Fenkner, Greenprint Regional Coordinator, Sacramento Tree Foundation, said trees are essential to the health and beauty of residences and entire communities throughout the state. “Trees provide food for people and animals and shade that helps make hot climates livable,” she said. “We owe it to ourselves, our children, their children and the trees themselves to help them get through this extraordinarily dry period. When water supplies are limited, priority should be given to trees, then shrubs and perennials and lastly to lawn and annuals.”

Julie Saare-Edmonds, DWR’s Landscape Program Manager, said Californians are responding to the call in January by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. to reduce their water usage by 20%.

But if a homeowner has allowed a lawn to dry up during the drought, trees growing in that lawn may not be getting enough water and may need more to help them transition into winter dormancy.

Anne Fenkner, Sacramento Tree Foundation, said trees have varying water needs depending on their species, age, size, slope of the ground beneath them and other factors. Homeowners can nurture their trees and improve their health by understanding tree care principles:

· Older established trees may be starved for water as well as younger trees. The low rainfall last winter did not replenish the soil moisture adequately and they may need a moisture boost before winter.

· Avoid fertilizing trees now; it will stimulate new growth at the wrong time of year.

· When planting new trees, choose species wisely. Consult a local urban forestry group such as the Sacramento Tree Foundation or check the Arboretum All-Stars list at UC Davis. We don’t know how long the drought will last, so consider selecting drought-resistant varieties and delaying planting until drought conditions improve. If the drought worsens in 2015, investments in new trees may be lost.

· Improve the quality of the soil in which the trees grow. Aerate lawns so the roots of mature trees have good access to water and oxygen.

· Consult the Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners or a certified arborist if you have questions about the health of a mature tree.

Additional advice on caring for trees can be found at these websites: