Agency's Third Countywide Plenary for Water Focuses on Continued Collaboration for Building Community Resilience
The Agency’s third Countywide Plenary for Water (Plenary) gathered leaders from federal, state, and local government agencies, water utilities, watershed management organizations, tribal representatives, and business organizations to enhance collaboration in managing water resources and protecting the watershed amidst a changing climate and growing wildfire threats. These leaders also discussed the importance of investing in water infrastructure and supporting the county’s rural landscape and growing agri-tourism industry.
Lori Parlin, Agency Board Chair and El Dorado County Supervisor, welcomed the group and Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Resources Control Board, kicked off the Plenary by talking about the importance of managing water at the local level and how it is important to look at both the quality and quantity of water supply. He emphasized the importance of headwaters and forest management and agreed that there needs to be more education to ensure the public understands the value and connection of the upper watershed to their communities.
"It is so important that we continue these conversations, particularly with the ongoing challenges we are facing in our county, such as the drought, wildfires, and changing climate conditions that impact our vital watersheds," said Wendy Thomas, Agency Board member and El Dorado County Supervisor. "The Plenary provides an opportunity for collaborative discussion, idea sharing, and coordination, all centered around ensuring that El Dorado County has an adequate water supply for our current and future needs."
WILDFIRE RECOVERY & PLANNING
After experiencing major wildfires in the region since 2014, the Plenary included a breakout session to address planning to mitigate our risk from wildfires.
Sean Barclay, General Manager, Tahoe City Public Utility District; John Thiel, General Manager, South Tahoe Public Utility District; Dan Corcoran, Director of Operations, El Dorado Irrigation District; Daniel Smith, Caldor Recovery Lead, U.S. Forest Service; and Mark Egbert, District Manager, El Dorado and Georgetown Divide Resource Conservation Districts, shared best practices and lessons learned from the Caldor Fire recovery efforts. In the breakout session, the group discussed how we can mitigate risk from future wildfires and plan for an adequate water supply and infrastructure for both drinking water and firefighting efforts.
The Agency introduced the concept to place economic values of ecosystem services in working landscapes, which include farmlands, ranches, forests, wetlands, water bodies, recreation, and other natural resource lands and resources.
Presentations from Charlene Carveth, Agricultural Commissioner, El Dorado County; Duncan MacEwan, President, ERA Economics; and Andrea Mackenzie, General Manager, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, focused on how to promote ecologically, economically, and agriculturally productive working landscapes in El Dorado County. Aaron Wilcher, Director, Center of Excellence – Greater Sacramento Region, California Community Colleges, spoke about how a working landscape is an important driver of jobs and a key contributor to the region’s economic vitality.
The Agency led an interactive breakout discussion about the broad value that working landscapes provide to the county, including increased open space, recreation, and economic activity. Kimberly Petree, Executive Director, El Dorado Band of Miwok Indians, and Cosumnes Culture and Waterways, provided valuable input on how protecting our lands and waterways is integral to furthering the working landscape concept.
“As a water resource planning agency, fostering communication and collaboration among the different water agencies, organizations, and stakeholders in our region is at the heart of our mission,” said Ken Payne, Agency General Manager. “Each of us knows that we cannot do this alone – it takes a village. Properly planning for a reliable water supply for our region and sustaining the desired rural agriculture way of life in our county, requires the experience and input from all of these stakeholders and thought leaders. I look forward to their continued participation in this important collaborative effort.”
The overarching Plenary theme, “Building Community Resilience,” resonated with attendees who agreed that it is imperative to work collectively to better manage existing water resources, improve reliability and resilience of our water supply, and protect the region’s watershed.
The Countywide Plenary for Water was held per our adopted policy and guidance for implementing our 2019 Water Resources Development and Management Plan. The next Plenary is scheduled for spring 2023. For more information about the Plenary held on November 16, 2022, and to view the meeting materials, please visit edwateragency.org/plenary.