The CWAC learning journey was a vivid reminder of the importance of directly experiencing what we are advocating for, of meeting the people who are creatively engaging those limitations and possibilities every day. Members arrived to the meeting fully equipped with ideas, data, and information about the state of California water, but some had never visited a California orchard, dam, or meadow. Using the time in the tour bus between sites, they exchanged and discussed new information and perspectives on California water challenges and solutions.
Environmental Leaders, Fortune 500s Announce Collaborative Investments to Protect California’s Water Future
Today, the California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC) is announcing its collaborative investments in critical projects designed to protect California’s water future. CWAC is made up of 20 environmental leaders and Fortune 500 companies who are all committed to taking an integrated approach to finding solutions to advance water security and provide a framework for collective action in the state. CWAC members are environmental organizations, food and beverage companies, non-profits, farmers and local water districts. Ag Innovations has been involved since 2015, and this year also began to facilitate the collaborative. We are delighted to be a part of such an active, engaged cross-sector group.
After five years of deep dialogue, research, and case analysis on key water issues, the California Roundtable on Water & Food Supply (CRWFS) took on a new challenge this past year: assessing a gubernatorial initiative. What happens when you bring the CRWFS Connectivity Approach to bear on one of the state’s most holistic efforts at water management to date? Read on to find out.
What needs to happen next to preserve and enhance working lands in California? This was the final question posed to leaders who participated in the 2015 CRAE Summit on the Future of Working Lands. The answers were as diverse as the state’s farms, ranches, and working forests, which have adapted to environments ranging from the deserts of the Imperial Valley, to the towering mountains of the Sierra Nevada region.
California has endured four years of severe drought, causing a new level of anxiety about the future of our water supply. The members of the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment (CRAE)—a forum for dialogue among agricultural, environmental, and governmental leaders—ask our fellow Californians to work together to find common ground and collaborate on long-term solutions in service of the greater public good.
The Sierra Water Workgroup (SWWG) convened in August to discuss three critical headwater issues: groundwater, protecting in-stream flows, and disadvantaged regions and communities. As the source of 60% of California's developed water supply, the diverse mountainous region shares unique challenges and opportunities. In their August conference, SWWG coalesced around five pathways toward collective action that will improve the long-term health of the state's headwaters.
The historic Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) was signed into law in the fall 2014, providing the first comprehensive framework for regulating groundwater in California. It requires new Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in at-risk groundwater basins to develop management plans for their region. This is a huge undertaking, and the state has recognized the need to connect water management groups with professional facilitators to ensure success. About one year into the new act, let's explore where we are with SGMA implementation and how we got here.
In California’s multiple responses to the drought, there is one key initiative that remains relatively unknown: the California Water Action Plan. The Plan calls for coordinated action to address the dynamic and interconnected challenges faced by the state’s water system. Efficient and effective coordination is exactly what is needed, but the question is, how do the actions of multiple agencies align to advance solutions that are strategic, connected, and adaptive?
The California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply (CRWFS) took on the challenge of identifying strategies for advancing groundwater sustainability within the context of watershed-scale, integrated water management. A recent report details their study of California’s Kings Basin region.
So, who really IS to blame for California’s drought? With media headlines demonizing the almond industry for their gallon-per-nut water usage and scolding urban populations for their lack of water conservation, there’s no single, clear-cut answer. The members of the California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment (CRAE) recently met to untangle the myths surrounding our current water crisis.
- We're Hiring! Seeking a Talented Senior Facilitator to round out our team!
- We're Hiring: Senior Facilitator
- Current Ag Innovations Roundtables and Projects:
- Systems Thinking for Intractable Problems: From Problem-Solving to Emergence-Seeking
- From Forests to Farms: a Learning Journey with California Water Action Collaborative (CWAC)
- When Water Works with Fire: FireSmart Lake Sonoma
Impact Area: Water
As the arid west knows first hand, drought and climate change are ushering in a new era of water scarcity. Our work in water seeks to both develop new frameworks and models to guide policy about water, as well as bring our collaboratory style to the many efforts that we are engaged in. This work brings stakeholders together around issues ranging from groundwater management to new water storage programs.
Example Projects: Water More Projects »
Firesmart Lake Sonoma Watershed Project
In the Summer and Fall of 2018 Ag Innovations and Sonoma County Water Agency (Sonoma Water) partnered to a two-part workshop series called "FireSmart Lake Sonoma" about living with fire in the Lake Sonoma Watershed. If a catastrophic fire were to occur in the Lake Sonoma Watershed, it could lead to contamination of the region’s drinking water supply, affecting over 600,000 residents. We are committed to working together on solutions to better protect your home and our primary regional water source. Lake Sonoma watershed has three distinct communities, connected by major roadways and divided by the lake. With this in mind we hosted a two-part workshop on reducing fire risk and increasing fire resiliency in the Lake Sonoma Watershed.
This project is a Resilient Community Pilot Project funded by PG&E Resilient Communities Better Together 2017 grant and the Sonoma County Water Agency.
Sustainable Groundwater Management Program in Solano County
The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) established a robust framework for the sustainable management of groundwater resources for the first time in California’s history. The first step in implementing SGMA is to develop Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), a focal point of local public agencies and stakeholders at this time. Ag Innovations is supporting the GSA formation process for two GSAs in the Solano Subbasin, primarily located in Solano County, by offering a range of professional services, including process design, facilitation, research and analysis.
California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment
The California Roundtable on Agriculture and the Environment (CRAE) is California’s preeminent forum for agricultural and environmental leaders to resolve conflict, find common ground, and work together to support agriculture and improve environmental outcomes.
Example Results More Results »
California Water Action Plan: Analysis & Findings by the California Roundtable on Water & Food Supply
The California Roundtable on Water & Food Supply (CRWFS) completed an extensive review of the California Water Action Plan (WAP). Utilizing their holistic framework, the Connectivity Approach, CRWFS produced a white paper identifying major strengths and opportunities for implementing the WAP in a more integrated and adaptive manner for this Administration and beyond.
Applying the Connectivity Approach: Groundwater Management in California's Kings Basin
The California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply’s latest report Applying the Connectivity Approach: Groundwater Management in California's Kings Basin identifies opportunities for improved connectivity in groundwater management planning and implementation in the state.
Policy Considerations for Managing Agricultural Nitrogen to Reduce Groundwater Contamination in California
Policy Considerations for Managing Agricultural Nitrogen to Reduce Groundwater Contamination in California communicates both a set of key facts important to building policy regarding nitrate in the agricultural context, and a set of key considerations to support effective policy-making.