The Water Forum Agreement

The Water Forum is at its essence a partnership.  The comprehensive Water Forum Agreement – October 2015 Update allows the region to meet its needs in a balanced way through implementation of seven elements.  These elements include detailed understanding among stakeholder organizations on how this region will deal with key issues such as groundwater management, water diversions, dry year water supplies, water conservation, and protection of the lower American River.

Increased Surface Water Diversions

Increased diversions will be needed in the region even with active conservation programs and the recommended sustainable use of groundwater that are also part of the Water Forum Agreement.  The Agreement outlines agreed-to diversions for each supplier and the facilities needed to divert, treat and distribute this water.

Flow Standard

To achieve the Water Forum’s co-equal objective of preserving the fishery, wildlife, recreational and aesthetic values of the lower American River, flow releases and water temperatures from Folsom Reservoir must more closely match the needs of anadromous fish, particularly fall run Chinook salmon and steelhead trout.

Water Conservation

The Water Conservation Element of the Agreement helps meet the region’s water supply needs by minimizing the need for increased groundwater pumping and increased use of surface water, including diversions from the American River.  Each water supplier in the region committed to implementing a comprehensive water conservation plan.

The Water Forum Successor Effort

The Water Forum Successor Effort (WFSE) is charged with implementing parts of the Water Forum Agreement and tracking the implementation of other parts. The most important job of the WFSE members and their representatives is to address challenges that arise as a result of new information and changed policy or regulatory conditions. This ongoing process is the hallmark of the Water Forum process and agreement — it allows immediate focus on new issues and provides the WFSE the flexibility to realign and the ability to sustain trust and momentum.

Dry Year Actions

To avoid impacts to the American River during dry water years, purveyors have agreed to reduce their surface water diversions and use alternative supplies, such as groundwater, or increase conservation to meet their customers’ needs.

Habitat Management

The Habitat Management Element (HME) for the lower American River, combined with other elements of the Water Forum Agreement, is intended to fulfill one of the Water Forum’s two co-equal objectives: “Preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the lower American River.” The HME also is necessary to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act’s requirement to avoid or lessen, to the extent reasonable and feasible, all significant impacts to the LAR resulting from future increased surface water diversions identified in the Water Forum Agreement.

Groundwater Management

Over half of the water used in the Sacramento region comes from groundwater supplies. Overpumping in some areas has lowered the water table as much as 90 feet, and some wells have been closed because of contamination. The Water Forum Agreement calls for a groundwater management plan to protect this valuable resource. The groundwater management element includes monitoring the amount of water withdrawn from the groundwater basin and the planned use of surface water in conjunction with groundwater. Three sub-basins characterize the groundwater basin — each with unique characteristics and circumstances, requiring a management plan or process appropriate to the sub-basin’s needs and conditions.

The Water Forum Agreement – October 2015 Update

The Water Forum Agreement was updated in October 2015 by the key stakeholders and signatories that make up the Water Forum. The following document provides an overview of the amendments and changes to the Water Forum Agreement.

The Water Forum Agreement – 2000