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Supervisors Take 1st Step to Overhaul Water, Drought Management Strategies


Low water at Lake Oroville
Low water at Lake Oroville in Butte County. Drone photo courtesy California Department of Water Resources

The Board of Supervisors directed the chief administrative officer Wednesday to update the county’s water and drought-management strategies, including sustainability efforts, and deliver a final report within the next year.

The overhaul, proposed by board Vice Chairwoman Nora Vargas, will incorporate the entire region, including local municipalities, Imperial County and bi-national cities.

Under the board’s direction, the report will include:

  • identifying stormwater capture and reclamation opportunities at county parks and facilities, along with recommendations
  • recommendations for county roads and highways in collaboration with the San Diego Association of Governments and Caltrans for water diversion, capture and reuse
  • incentives for affordable housing developments to integrate and install stormwater capture and reuse systems
  • identifying financial risks caused by extreme weather conditions, including drought, floods and fires
  • financial investments that reduce extreme weather risks
  • research into ways other jurisdictions are handling graywater reuse and a summary of best practices
  • alignment of local recommendations with California’s water supply strategy

CAO Helen Robbins-Meyer was directed to return to the board with a mid-year update, followed by a final report. Supervisors also directed her to expand outreach efforts on current stormwater capture plans in the county, funding and pilot program guidelines.

The county Land Use and Environment Group will need to identify the $900,000 needed to fund the study, as the money is not in the fiscal year 2022-23 budget, and then return for board approval.

Vargas said the effort is critical, as California “is going to continue to see drought, climate change intensify throughout our lifetime.” She said climate change affects low-income communities and residents of color the most, in terms of food or water access.

Vargas added that the report will ensure that “our residents, cultural communities continue to develop best practices.”

Supervisor Jim Desmond said he supported efforts to strengthen water resources, and suggested that the report also examine risks, opportunities and incentives for sustainable agricultural projects.

City News Service contributed to this article.


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