Water Forum 2.0 Process

Negotiating a new agreement for the American River region.

In April 2020, Water Forum members embarked on a new journey to review and revise the historic Water Forum Agreement, signed in 2000. The original agreement, which took seven years to negotiate, will expire in 2030. For the past two years, through a global pandemic, massive societal and political change, and the emerging impacts of climate change, Water Forum members have continued their work on the negotiations—called Water Forum 2.0.

Throughout 2020 and 2021, as caucus members met frequently to develop a strong understanding of the work of the Water Forum (Foundational Work) and begin to scope out the desired outcomes, core interests, and key management questions (Phase 1). The Water Forum has four caucuses that include members from the business, environmental, public, and water sectors. The caucuses met frequently throughout the year to identify their core interests and issues statements. It is the comparison of the caucus interest statements that illuminates where there are core areas of interest in the negotiations:

  • Coequal Objectives: There is strong alignment and support that the existing coequal objectives remain a solid foundation for the WF 2.0 negotiations. There are some questions about timing for confirmation of the objectives and whether they should be expanded based on the regional context and representation interests.
  • Climate Change Resiliency: Climate resiliency is important to all the caucuses. There are some questions about how the science/information will be accounted for in the process. But overall, strong alignment on the importance of addressing this as a main component of the agreement.
  • Regional Context and Representation: Each interest statement speaks to the Water Forum’s role in the region and the scope of the issues (e.g., groundwater, equity) and scale of engagement (e.g., geographic, diversity). The role of the Water Forum is a central theme in the negotiations and will change based on the topic.
  • Integrated Long-range Planning: The interest statements raise questions about the intersection of land use planning and water planning from a regional scale.  Many of the information needs are being addressed in the study plan – however there are additional interests around long-range land use and demand projections.
  • Water Conservation and Efficiency: This an area of divergence. Many of the interest raise questions about cost/benefits of conservation, impacts on disadvantaged communities, and weight of pending regulations.
  • Surface Water and Groundwater Conjunctive Use: This is an area that is closely linked to integrated long-range planning and climate change resiliency with an acknowledgment of the importance of conjunctive use in the region. There is a strong interest in supporting sustainable groundwater management.
  • Habitat: The interest statements show a consistent level of support for the Water Forum’s existing habitat enhancement program. The scope and scale of the program are strongly linked to the other areas of interest.
Ad Hoc Technical Team: Providing a Quantitative Foundation

In 2022, the Water Forum made crucial progress on the “Study Plan and Analysis”—the quantitative framework for negotiations. Initiated in 2021, the Study Plan seeks to understand the answer to key questions that, ultimately, explore how future conditions in the American River watershed compare to current conditions.

Water Forum 2.0 Participating Organizations

Thank you to the organizations and their representatives that are devoting countless hours to participating in Water Forum 2.0 negotiations. This list includes organizations that signed onto the original agreement and new ones, as well.

Business Caucus
Enviromental Caucus
Public Caucus
Water Caucus

*Denotes organization that was a signatory to the 2000 agreement.

Publications and Data
Water Forum Past Present and Future – Roadmap Document
Water Forum 2.0 Initial Caucus Interest Statements
Water Forum 2.0 Initial Caucus Interest Statements Comparison
Draft Water Forum 2.0 Terms of Reference
Water Forum 2.0 Foundational Briefings: Draft Compiled Summaries (Summer, 2020)


Water Conservation and Use Efficiency Working Group Presentations:

Water Forum 2.0 Learning and Engagement Sessions

The Water Forum has hosted nearly a dozen learning and engagement sesions on the topics listed below. You can find recordings for all of these on our YouTube channel here.

Water Forum Happy Hour Guest Notes, May 5, 2021

The Water Forum has a strong history and culture of taking an interest-based or mutual-gains approach. While Water Forum 2.0 negotiations have focused on many of the Agreement’s original elements, it has also become clear that caucus interests align on addressing the impacts of climate change on the Water Forum’s coequal goals of water supply reliability and environmental stewardship of the Lower American River.

“The Water Forum Way” | How interest-based negotiations lead to success