Sacramento region recognized for innovative and sustainable stewardship of the lower American River
The Water Forum earned the Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award (GEELA), the State’s highest environmental honor, in recognition of their work to improve the lower American River riparian habitat and parkway, and to protect the Sacramento region’s water supply.
Accepting the GEELA: Tom Gohring, Water Forum; Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan; Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby; California Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird; Andy Fecko, Placer County Water Agency; Bill Busath, City of Sacramento; Lilly Allen, Water Forum; Jim Ray, North State BIA; Ron Stork, Friends of the River; Paul Bratovich, Water Forum; John Woodling, Regional Water Authority
The GEELA award recognizes individuals, organizations, and businesses that demonstrated remarkable leadership through efforts in conserving California’s natural resources and the environment.
“This award celebrates the sustained partnership of the Water Forum and their members who have demonstrated their value to our region for more than 22 years,” said City of Sacramento Councilmember Angelique Ashby. “The City of Sacramento is a proud investor in the Water Forum and we look forward to continued collaboration in water management.”
The Water Forum Agreement approaches the stewardship of the lower American River with two co-equal objectives: to provide a safe and reliable water supply to support the region’s economy and to preserve the environment of the lower American River. The Agreement provides a foundation for collaborating on water issues and challenges amongst diverse stakeholders, including water providers, environmental groups, and business leaders.
“The Water Forum continues to serve as a good example of how regional collaborative approaches can address challenges and resolve conflicts around competing uses of water,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan. “As California enters the fourth year of a severe drought, the Water Forum is important now more than ever.”
Last year, as the drought persisted, the Sacramento region needed to reduce water consumption by 29 percent to meet state water reduction regulations. The region worked together, and collectively achieved a 42 percent water reduction between January and October 2015.
“The Water Forum Agreement continues to be the foundation of critical water management activities in the Sacramento Region,” said John Woodling, Executive Director of the Regional Water Authority. “Water providers have been implementing groundwater management, water conservation, and drought response actions while the Water Forum Successor Effort concentrates on protecting and restoring the lower American River. It’s a really valuable partnership.”
Last spring the Water Forum stepped into action when warm temperatures and low water levels threatened endangered fish. The Water Forum partnered with the Bureau of Reclamation to manage water temperatures in real-time through daily river temperature testing coupled with strategic cold water releases from Folsom Dam. As a result, the vast majority of the 2015 Steelhead trout brood survived that critical life stage. The Water Forum, in partnership with Federal and State agencies, has also created essential spawning and rearing habitat through yearly gravel restoration projects for endangered Chinook salmon and Steelhead along the lower American River.
“The Water Forum continues to implement projects aimed at stabilizing and enhancing salmonid habitat in the lower American River, including naturalizing channelized creeks,” said Ron Stork, Friends of the River Senior Policy Advocate. “Local projects sponsored by the Water Forum benefit the river’s ecosystem and native species, but also provide invaluable public health benefits through the addition of public spaces to recreate and enjoy the outdoors.”
In addition to habitat enhancement projects, the Water Forum developed an innovative method to manage releases from Folsom Dam. This new approach, called the Modified Flow Management Standard (Modified FMS) not only improves conditions for the native species in the lower American River, but also helps proactively manage water supply in Folsom Reservoir, the source of drinking water for more than 500,000 people.
“Implementing farsighted flow standard solutions for the lower American River is one of the most critical elements and significant challenges in implementing the Water Forum Agreement,” said Einar Maisch, Placer County Water Agency General Manager. “An improved flow standard will offer another tool for the region to continue protecting the lower American River and ensuring our region has a dependable water supply.”
The Modified FMS is the result of more than 15 years of rigorous, science-based work. The Modified FMS was unanimously endorsed by members in 2015, and the Water Forum is working collaboratively with the Bureau of Reclamation to fine tune and implement this approach.
“On behalf of the Water Forum and our members, I am honored that our work has been recognized with this prestigious award,” said Water Forum Executive Director Tom Gohring. “I look forward to continuing to work together to implement the Water Forum Agreement.”
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