SACRAMENTO—Nearly 200 policymakers and water industry leaders came together July 14 to celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the Regional Water Authority (RWA), which represents 22 water suppliers in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo and Sutter counties.
The lunchtime event, held at Scott’s Seafood along the beautiful Sacramento River, provided an opportunity to mark 15 years of accomplishments and milestones made by RWA and local water providers toward building reliable water supplies and increasing water efficiency in the Sacramento region, as well as an occasion to look forward at opportunities to come.
“A lot of what RWA has accomplished was because of our vision for collaboration to tackle any challenge or take advantage of any opportunity,” said RWA Executive Director John Woodling. “We don’t know exactly what the future holds, but we can be confident that the Regional Water Authority will be very important in meeting the challenges as we move forward.”
RWA was established in 2001 after a two-year process to create a unified approach to regional water issues. Guided by the idea that agencies can accomplish more together than separately, the regional approach has netted tangible results, including:
- Obtaining and managing more than $80 million of state and federal grant funds to conduct planning and implement water supply, water quality and environmental restoration projects.
- Facilitating implementation of a regional conjunctive use program that supports reduced diversions from the American River in dry years.
- Preparing the American River Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Plan and overseeing its implementation.
- Developing the award-winning Regional Water Efficiency Program, which assists water providers in implementing water conservation best management practices in a cost-effective manner and in communicating water efficiency information to the public.
During the event, State Senator Ted Gaines and Assemblymember Beth Gaines presented resolutions from the California Senate and Assembly recognizing RWA for its achievements.
Rich Plecker, who was among the local water industry leaders that helped establish RWA and now serves as the City of Roseville’s Environmental Utilities Director, reflected on the organization’s original vision and progress.
Event keynote speaker Dave Cogdill, a former state senator who championed bond funding for water storage projects as a legislator and now leads the California Building Industry Association, took a look forward, discussing opportunities for a “concentrated effort on multiple fronts” to address water supply reliability in California.
“New homes built today use roughly half the water of residences built prior to 1980—46,500 gallons of water for the average household,” Cogdill said. “If we could convert that housing stock built prior to 1980 to the same water-efficient appliances and fixtures that our new product has, we could save 300 billion gallons of water per year or just under a million acre feet of water.”
The event attracted nearly 30 federal, state and local policymakers and their staff. Several who could not attend offered their congratulations in writing. Wrote Congresswoman Doris Matsui, “The Regional Water Authority has made our region stronger and more resilient. It has created a forum that works for the greater good of the region—through wet years and dry years, times of peace and times of conflict. Without RWA’s guidance we would not be as far along in balancing the many needs within our watershed. I thank RWA for what they do and wish them well for another 15 years of service.”
The Regional Water Authority is a joint powers authority representing two dozen water providers and affiliates in the greater Sacramento area. Its primary mission is to help its members protect and enhance the reliability, availability, affordability and quality of water resources.