California Law Recognizes Meadows and Forests as Water Infrastructure

Governor Brown signed AB 2480, which recognizes California’s watersheds as water infrastructure.

Walker Watershed, California | Luke Hunt

California’s vast water infrastructure is likely the most extensive in the world. It includes the tallest dam in the nation and enormous state and federal water projects that tap rivers flowing from as far away as Wyoming.

Carson Watershed, California | Luke Hunt
Carson Watershed, California | Luke Hunt

On September 27th, 2016, Governor Brown signed legislation that recognizes the state’s watersheds as part of it’s infrastructure. Just as the state’s canals and levees need maintenance and repair, so do our rivers and watersheds. This bill opens the door to using modern infrastructure financing approaches to protect and repair rivers and watersheds. Infrastructure bonds can now be used for restoration and protection. Likewise, it will be easier for utilities to justify investment in watershed restoration. Importantly, watershed degradation should now go on the books as value lost to deferred maintenance. The cost of deferred maintenance and asset condition will be two parts of the State Treasurer’s infrastructure inventory. This inventory should now value California’s watersheds as key water supply assets, on par with pipes and levees.

The short bill is a pleasure to read beginning with: “It is hereby declared…that source watersheds are recognized and defined as integral components of California’s water infrastructure.” Eligible maintenance and repair activities include:

   “(1) Upland vegetation management to restore the watershed’s productivity and resiliency.

     (2) Wet and dry meadow restoration.

     (3) Road removal and repair.

     (4) Stream channel restoration.”

American Rivers has long advocated that to ensure our prosperity, we need to invest in our natural water infrastructure, just as we maintain our built systems. Now California has made it official!

  • Green Infrastructure in CA | Luke Hunt
    Green Infrastructure in CA
    Luke Hunt

18 responses to “California Law Recognizes Meadows and Forests as Water Infrastructure

  1. Hydro electric is pollution free that produces Huge amount of electric 24 hours a day, 7days a week. If we need to use some of this power to get the fish up stream, let’s do it. Dams produce irrigation that produce crops that changes CO2 back to carbon and oxygen. American Rivers work for the oil companies and some of them don’t know it

  2. About 90 years ago there was a plan to keep salt water from entering the Delta. This plan was scrapped in favor of Shasta Dam for flood control. We have an opportunity today to accomplish the same thing by installing flood gates & Locks in the Carquines Straights (similiar to the locks on the themes), which would make the proposed tunnels unnecessary. Since about 26 million acre feet of fresh water each year is dumped in the ocean through the Golden Gate Bridge currently, more fresh water would be available for both people an agriculture.

  3. I agree with all of the Replys to Bill AB 2480 But we need to cut some of Water Used in the state. All we here in the news is how dry California is. We have a patented product that will Save Water and Save Money.The product is Ernie’s Water Saver Urinal Pad. Most urinal flush 1.5 Gallons of water every flush. Ernie’s Urinal Pad only flushes 6 to 8 oz. of water a saving of water of 1 Gallon and 58 oz. Just think of all the large building with several urinals , the thousand of gallons of water could be saved has a R.O.I. all need know is how many Urinals and Cost of Water.We all use Water like there is end. People should look at And compare the saving of water in there buildings,that could be saved. Thank You Jay Hunter

  4. The dams on our rivers actually preserve the water sheds with substantial flow at all times. During dry years these water sheds would dry up, due the melt off of the snow is complete and the natural reserve is gone from the source.

  5. It is imperative to declare a moratorium on deforestation statewide. Without trees no clean air to breath no rain no water. life itself has been completely altered and endangered. Waaay past time for remedial actions!

  6. Time to recognize the immense financial assets of Pacific fishing resources, watersheds, rivers, lakes and streams as more valuable than the profits of a few companies and corporations.

  7. Would like to see all mainstream and bottomlands dams removed on the west coast…to restore not only riverside-floodplains….and river-delta/marshes near the ocean…but also to restore salmon and other river fish…which are stopped from breeding by dams.

    The return of California’s once massive salmon spawning runs and river sport fishing….would more than compensate for any financial losses brought by dam removals.

    Wild Salmon now sells for $5-25 dollars PER POUND…and is now in demand worldwide…since other nations have also destroyed their river fish populations with dams.

    Rivers running fully in their old riverbeds would also likely force more water into underground water aquifers….through ancient riverbed water seeps.

    Sometimes I think that when the dams are removed….and the salmon return to California…the rains will also return, like some kind of divine karma.

    California cities and farms need to focus more on recycling water, native plant/no-grass landscaping and underground drip irrigation….to avoid further destruction of California rivers and river fisheries.

    Riverside-floodplains….and river-delta/marshes…are the nurseries for much of the world’s river and ocean fish. Once these are gone….much our ocean life will also be further destroyed.

    Coastal coral death/coral bleaching….may also be linked to river-water damming and river-water diversions….which stop cold river-water from flowing into coastal waters….cold river water outflows which would normally keep coastal waters and coastal corals cool. Coral bleaching has been linked to warming coastal waters.

    1. Couldn’t agree more. Hopefully we can rally enough support to keep them from making the Brown water tunnels a reality. Also here in Northern California, we are tasked with informing and trying to deter the public funds from reaching a project intended to raise Shasta Dam (tallest dam in the country) by 18.5 ft. We (Winnemem Wintu) have been pressuring department of interior and Ag to peruse reintroduction of wild Winter run chinook salmon to the headwaters above Shasta dam where there is no current access for fish passage.

    2. Its so refreshing to see that the connections in the landscape are being recognized. Hydrological connects are essential to maintain a healthy watershed and its long-term health! A healthy functioning watershed is the foundation on which we should make the necessary changes to past, current and future development. Thanks again for a glimmer or sanity and common sense. Here is Australia we are battling the same challenges – we know the catchment (watershed) is where we need to change but this is a huge challenge.

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