What is Integrated Regional Watershed Management?

Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Planning began in 2002 as the result of the passage of Proposition 50 by California voters. The bond, among other priorities, authorized the expenditure of $3.4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund a variety of water and wetlands projects. The funding of water improvement and supply projects was specifically tied to the creation of plans by regionally focused groups, which were to take into account water supply, water quality and water-related environmental considerations. These plans became known as Integrated Regional Water Management Plans or IRWMP.

IRWM is aimed at securing long-term water supply reliability within California by first recognizing the inter-connectivity of water supplies and the environment, and then voluntarily pursuing projects yielding multiple benefits for water supplies, water quality, and natural resources. IRWM is characterized as a collaborative effort to manage all aspects of water resources in a region. IRWM crosses jurisdictional, watershed, and political boundaries; involves multiple agencies, stakeholders, individuals, and groups; and attempts to address the issues and differing perspectives of all the entities involved through mutually beneficial solutions.

What is an Integrated Regional Water Management Plan?

An Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRMWP) is a comprehensive planning document to encourage regional strategies for management of water resources. An IRWMP should investigate a broad spectrum of management strategies, identify the benefits of integrating water management strategies, and identify priorities for implementing projects and programs. An IRWMP is a comprehensive planning document to encourage regional strategies for management of water resources. The planning process is designed to develop a water management plan that is meaningful for the region rather than a top down, one size fits all approach, to accommodate the diverse needs of different regions.

At a minimum, the plan will:

  • Describe major water related objectives and conflicts within the region
  • Consider a broad variety of water management strategies
  • Identify the appropriate mix of supply and demand alternatives, water quality protections, and environmental stewardship actions to provide long term, reliable, high quality water supply and protection of the environment.
  • Identify disadvantaged communities and consider their water related needs.
  • Evaluate vulnerability to climate change/weather variability of water management systems,and consider climate impacts of identified programs and projects.

Why do an IRWM plan?

An IRWM Plan is a key that unlocks the door to many funding resources including implementation funding from the State’s IRWM Program. Grantors are looking for projects to fund that include collaboration of different groups and agencies. Developing a sound plan for our region is the critical step to securing funding for water-related projects in our region. Examples of possible IRWM projects include wastewater treatment system upgrades, flood management planning, storm water management, upgrades to aging water supply systems, environmental restoration or protection, etc.

What does our region look like?

Our Region includes the Upper Sacramento, McCloud and Lower Pit River watersheds, from their headwaters to the confluence with Shasta Lake, as well as the Medicine Lake Highlands. The cities of Mt. Shasta, Dunsmuir and McCloud all fall within the Region.

What is the role of REX in the process?

The River Exchange has worked with our partners in the Region to navigate the State’s IRWM Planning process. The Region’s proposed hydro-geologic boundaries were accepted by DWR through the Regional Acceptance Process (RAP) in January 2010. The River Exchange was chosen by stakeholders within the Region to be the applicant for the IRWM Planning grant to DWR. In February 2011, the River Exchange was awarded the grant to develop the IRWMP, and we signed a grant agreement with DWR in October 2011. It is REX’s responsibility to manage the process of developing the Plan, ensuring that the Plan is transparent and inclusive. REX managed the team of consultants who helped our Region assemble the Plan; REX has no direct stake in the plan, and did not make decisions about what content or which projects will be included in the Plan.

Now that the planning process has been completed, it has been requested of The River Exchange that they continue to perform basic administrative duties for the RWAG, including facilitating RWAG communication, meeting set-up, website maintenance and so on. On February 11, 2014, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) awarded REX a Community Capacity and Land Stewardship grant to support the USR's efforts in 2014. This project will build capacity for the USR RWAG by providing an internal communication system, a central point of contact with state agencies and other IRWM regions, travel support for meeting attendance, secretarial support, and representation at forums and conferences outside of our area.

Status of the planning process

To meet the requirements of the grant program, a Regional Water Action Group (RWAG), comprised of individuals, groups, organizations and government agencies, held regular meetings from August 2011 through December 2013 to discuss and develop plan content and project proposals. On November 25, 2013, the RWAG members voted unanimously to adopt the IRWM plan. The River Exchange has closed the DWR-funded IRWM planning grant, and submitted the plan to DWR for the required Plan Review Process. The plan passed the Plan Review Process in May of 2014. This officially concludes the "planning process" for the region.

On-going efforts: The River Exchange is now serving as the RWAG's secretary from March 1 through March 1 of 2015 through a grant awarded by the National Forest Foundation. The RWAG will meet at least every other month in 2014, in Mt. Shasta, Dunsmuir or McCloud. For specific meeting times and locations please check the website calendar for updates or contact the River Exchange. Among other tasks, the primary focus of the RWAG's work in the near-term will be to prepare for the next rounds of IRWM Implementation funding.

What comes next?

Now that the plan has been adopted by the RWAG, our region will be eligible to apply for funds to implement projects identified in the Plan. DWR is funding IRWM implementation grants, but other sources of funding are likely to be available as well. The RWAG meets as needed to prepare for future DWR funding rounds, and to research other sources of project-related and administrative funding. Check our Meetings page for meetings and other events.

Who are the members of the Regional Water Action Group (RWAG)?

The IRWM Planning process was conducted through a group of stakeholders that formed during the planning process. From this informal group of stakeholders, a Regional Water Action Group (RWAG) was formed when a memorandum of understanding was drafted and signed by interested groups and agencies involved in the planning process. The members of the RWAG, as of June 11, 2014 are as follows:

  • California Trout
  • City of Dunsmuir
  • City of Mt. Shasta
  • McCloud Community Services District
  • McCloud Watershed Council
  • Modoc Nation
  • Pacific Forest Trust
  • The River Exchange
  • Shasta Indian Nation
  • Siskiyou Land Trust
  • Western Shasta Resource Conservation District
  • Winnemem Wintu Tribe
  • Mt. Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center
  • Pit River Tribe
  • Medicine Lake Citizens for Quality Environment
  • Trout Unlimited

How can the public get involved?

All regular RWAG meetings are open to the public. You can be placed on a contact list that will allow you to receive email updates about news and information. To start receiving updates from us, contact the RWAG.

Need more resources?

California Dept. Of Water Resources’ Integrated Regional Watershed Management (IRWM) Homepage: http://www.water.ca.gov/irwm/index.cfm

Map of Upper Sacramento, McCloud and Upper Pit River IRWM Region: https://uppersacirwm.squarespace.com/s/Upper-Sac-IRWM-Region.pdf

CABY (Cosumnes, American, Bear & Yuba) Region: IRWM Homepage: http://www.cabyregion.org/

CABY ( Cosumnes, American, Bear & Yuba) Region: Completed IRWM Plan: http://cabyregion.org/caby-plan/

Inyo-Mono Region: http://inyo-monowater.org/