Political strategies

Supervisors take first step in revising water and drought management strategies

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

The Board of Supervisors on Wednesday asked the chief executive 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 Council Vice President Nora Vargas, will incorporate the entire region, including local municipalities, Imperial County and binational cities.

Under the direction of the board, the report will include:

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

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

The county’s land use and environmental group will need to identify the $900,000 needed to fund the study, as the money is not in the 2022-23 fiscal year budget, and then come back for approval by the board.

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

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 boost water resources and suggested the report also examine the risks, opportunities and incentives for sustainable agricultural projects.

City News Service contributed to this article.