The Greater San Joaquin County Regional Water Coordinating Committee (GSJCRWCC), a diverse group of regional water management stakeholders, recently announced that it completed a significant update to the 2014 Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP Addendum) and will consider adopting the updated Plan on Jan. 20, 2021. The goal of the IRWMP is to encourage regional cooperation and collaborative projects to provide water supply reliability, water recycling, water conservation, water quality improvement, stormwater capture and management, flood management and environmental and habitat protection/improvements.
“San Joaquin County, along with most of the State, is faced with the critical challenge of increasingly scarce water resources. Limited surface water supplies from major rivers and the tremendous use of groundwater supplies, combined with the serious threats of climate change has increased the magnitude of this challenge,” said John Holbrook, Chairman of the GSJCRWCC. “Without an integrated water plan in place, the region could face limited water supplies, substandard water quality and a deteriorating natural environment.”
Integrated regional water management (IRWM) is a comprehensive, cooperative approach for managing water to achieve social, environmental and economic objectives. The practice of IRWM is rooted in the principle of regional responsibility, recognizing that local and regional water managers and other stakeholders, working together in a cooperative, open, and transparent manner, are best suited and best positioned to manage water resources in their regions. Issues including limited groundwater and surface water supplies, drought, flooding, climate change, water quality, environmental degradation, aging infrastructure, economic constraints, recreation, and cultural considerations are addressed through coordinated and integrated actions.
“IRWM is helping California move away from a legacy of fragmented, divisive, conflict prone, and sometimes ineffective water management practices by supporting cooperation among agencies and other stakeholders. Integrated water management at the regional level helps provide for public safety, sustains a healthy economy and supports ecosystem vitality,” said Matt Zidar, Water Resources Manager for San Joaquin County.
The first IRWMP in the San Joaquin County region was adopted in 2007 and updated in 2014. With a larger State-mandated focus on groundwater sustainability, the GSJCRWCC was formed in 2019 and is responsible for updating the 2014 IRWMP that meets the requirements defined by California Water Code and established by the 2016 IRWM Guidelines. The GSJCRWCC includes representatives from San Joaquin County, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Stockton Environmental Justice, Central Delta Water Agency, City of Lodi, North San Joaquin Water Conservation District, Reclamation District No. 2074 (Brookside), Stockton East Water District, Delta-Sierra Group (Sierra Club), South Delta Water Agency, South San Joaquin Irrigation District and the City of Stockton. Collaboration among the GSJCRWCC member agencies has strengthened the potential for broad public support for water management activities as well as the ability to leverage critical local, state, and federal dollars in order to fund water management projects.
Throughout the IRWM planning process, the GSJCRWCC has sought out opportunities to integrate a variety of water management strategies and stakeholder input, including Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta issues, flood management, stormwater management issues, environmental issues, groundwater management, conservation, reclamation, recycling, water supply and conjunctive use, climate change, and inter-regional issues all of which may benefit a wide variety of regional interests. Among the broad objectives of the Plan is to apply practices including water conservation, groundwater recharge, recycling and storm water management to improve water supply reliability while reducing regional dependence on the Delta.
Proposition 1, passed by voters in 2014, authorized $510 million in grant funds Statewide to support implementation of projects identified in an IRWMP which meets the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) requirements. Out of this total, $31 million has been allocated to the San Joaquin River Hydrologic Region (i.e. San Joaquin River Funding Area), of which $6.5 million will be available within the area covered by the GSJCRWCC. In addition, the GSJCRWCC has secured another $248,000 in grants specifically for the Disadvantaged Community (DAC) Involvement Program which has further enabled underrepresented and disadvantaged community participation in the IRWMP process, and has allowed them to have direct input on which DAC projects get funded.
“Public participation and transparency have been the center of the IRWMP development”, said Glenn Prasad, Secretary of the GSJCRWCC. “In addition to the stakeholder engagement conducted during the original plan development in 2014, this IRWMP Addendum was prepared through active engagement of stakeholders and DACs in a series of more than twelve monthly and special public meetings.”
GSJCRWCC is keeping this public engagement open through the adoption of the IRWMP Addendum in January 2021, and therefore, encourages members of the public to continue their participation by providing any comments to the Addendum by Jan. 8, 2021. After adoption of the IRWMP Addendum by the GSJCRWCC, it will be submitted to DWR in late January 2021. Following receipt and review of the Plan, DWR will conduct a formal 30-day public comment period and will invite the public to submit additional comments.
More information about the IRWMP Addendum, the role of the GSJCRWCC and upcoming meetings can be found at www.esjirwm.org. Comments and questions to the IRWMP Addendum should be sent to Glenn Prasad in the San Joaquin County Public Works Department at email@example.com.