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overdraft; increase supply reliability and security and improve water quality.”

For the 2013 Water Plan, the regional emphasis on integrated water management activities continued.

See a map of all IRWM Planning Regions

IRWM “connects the dots” at several levels, includ- ing coordinating the various levels of government. It also helps tie together different resource manage- ment strategies and bring disparate sources of data and information together to help people share their knowledge and increase the overall awareness of the health of a watershed.

Backers of the movement attest that regional-based leadership and stakeholder groups are better equipped at crafting solutions to local and regional water resources management issues than state agencies.

Watch a video about American River IRWM eff orts

It is a necessary pursuit in places where expanding population growth has the potential to strain water supplies. One such area, the Antelope Valley, has more than 444,000 people living in many different communities that encompass approximately 2,400 square miles in northern Los Angeles County, southern Kern County and western San Bernardino County. The region has experienced tre- mendous changes during the past 25 years with a rapid population increase as people moved there from nearby large cities. The trend is continuing, and the population is expected to increase to 1.7 million people by 2035.

The Antelope Valley IRWM Plan has several goals: How municipal and industrial water providers can reliably provide the quantity and quality of water that will be demanded by the projected population, options to satisfy agricultural users’ demand for reliable supplies of reasonable cost irrigation water and opportunities to protect and enhance current water resources, including groundwater, and the natural habitat within the Antelope Valley region.

Antelope Valley’s issues are mirrored throughout the state as water agencies contend with increasing popula- tions, the need to better manage stormwater runoff, and requirements to restore and protect wildlife habitats and endangered species. Many water providers also are faced with issues related to aging treatment and deliv- ery infrastructure that needs to be modifi ed/expanded even as federal, state and local budgets tighten. And climate change alters the hydrologic regime for which this infrastructure was designed.

IRWM refl ects an increasing regional self-reliance to meet water supply needs and the recognition that regional water assets, such as groundwater banking, are necessary to reduce the need for imported water.


Experts also recognize that IRWM means including all constituencies, including those that traditionally have been outside of the water planning and policy process. In some IRWM regions, offi cials are looking how to best serve disadvantaged communities and how to improve on cultivating a relationship with tribal representatives. More, however, needs to be done. Even before IRWM was offi cially recognized, some California water purveyors practiced its tenets.

The Water Forum, a group of business and agricultural leaders, citizens groups, environmentalists, water manag- ers and local governments, was created in 1993 by the city and county of Sacramento to protect the North Area Groundwater Basin, conserve municipal and industrial water use and protect fi sh and other public trust assets in the lower American River.

The history of Santa Ana River watershed planning can be traced back to when the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority (SAWPA) was originally formed as a regional planning agency in 1967 and undertook the watershed’s fi rst water quality management program study. One of the fi rst watershed-wide water resource plans by SAWPA was the 1998 SAWPA Water Resources Plan – a forerunner of the many efforts to follow.

In 1996 the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD), a regional wholesaler that provides water for 26 member public agencies to deliver to 19 million people living in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties, developed its original Integrated Resources Plan as a result of the drought of 1987-1992. The 1996 plan emphasized the construction and creation of a network of water storage facilities, both below and above ground, while investing in a mix of local and imported supply options, according to MWD’s Integrated Water Resources Plan 2010 Update.

Over the years much has been learned about the development and implementation of regional water plans. Those now in place provide structure for management of other natural resources in California and integrating the management of built infrastructure and natural systems in benefi cial ways. For example, some regions are developing assessments of regional clean energy potential and identifying opportunities for energy effi ciency programs and distributed generation projects.

The Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management explains the purpose and reason behind developing IRWM plans, how plans are funded, the successes and challenges involved in using this approach – including case studies – and the outlook for the future.

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