IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES THROUGH THE ONE WATER PLAN – COYOTE WATERSHED

The process of identifying opportunities on a scale as large as Coyote Watershed in Santa Clara County but at a level detailed enough to encourage development of specific projects is no small task. To accomplish this, the District is taking a two-pronged approach for identifying opportunities to pursue (see A and B below). We will then prioritize these opportunities using science-based metrics in developing final recommendations to the District’s Board of Directors (see C below).

Step A: Soliciting Input
Under the One Water approach of integrated water resources management on a watershed scale, the District’s project team has been collecting input from stakeholders and staff regarding water resource-related challenges faced by people and the environment around them in the Coyote Watershed portion of Santa Clara County. We solicited external input through the One Water Stakeholder Work Group from 2016 to 2017, as well as additional meetings with specific interest groups and neighborhoods.

Step B: Collecting and Analyzing Geographic Data
The District has a long history of collecting useful information in the field, prior to and following projects, as well as working with many partners to ensure we have the best available data. The One Water team has compiled a substantial data warehouse from these sources. This data has now become the center of our digital mapping analysis; we are using it to create a ‘heat map’ showing where conditions suggest opportunities for improvements that could help meet the One Water objectives. This analysis begins with all data being considered of equal importance, but is currently under review to add weighting to highlight data layers critical to supporting a particular objective(s). Areas in which several sources of data overlap, may highlight a need for improvement and warrant a multi-objective project.

Step C: Combine Stakeholder Input with Available Data to Develop Projects
Combining outputs from Steps A and B allows staff to identify those geographic locations where available data and potential opportunities intersect across the landscape. Where there is overlap between available data and stakeholder input, we note this as a potential “project area.”

What’s Next
The next step (which is currently underway by District staff) is further refining project areas into reasonable sizes and locations that might yield multiple benefits. (The red circles on the map above represent our first attempt at this.) District staff then must scope these project areas as actual projects, review them for general feasibility, describe how they meet related One Water metrics, screen and prioritize them, and present the refined list to decision makers. If you have any questions or feedback on this update, please contact Brian Mendenhall at onewater@valleywater.org.

ONE WATER AND STORM WATER RESOURCES

The Water District is working with the Santa Clara Valley Urban Runoff Pollution Prevention Program (SCVURPPP) to develop a Storm Water Resource Plan (SWRP) for the Santa Clara Basin within Santa Clara County. The development of the SWRP is being funded by a Prop 1 grant from the State Water Resources Control Board.

The SWRP will identify and prioritize multi-benefit green infrastructure projects throughout the Santa Clara Basin. These projects are intended to capture storm water runoff, improve water quality, reduce localized flooding, and increase water supplies for beneficial uses and the environment.

The SWRP will be coordinated with the Water District’s current efforts to complete the One Water Plan. The SWRP helps achieve the One Water goal of “Valued and Respected Rain” – to manage rainwater to improve flood protection, water supply, and ecosystem health. The multi-benefit projects will also help meet other One Water objectives related to water quality protection, sustainable groundwater, and climate change adaptation. For additional information on the SWRP, its goals, and timeline for development, see the fact sheet here: Storm Water Resource Plan Fact Sheet 2017.

MEASURING WATERSHED HEALTH – MAY 2017 UPDATE

Since our last post in January, we have been busy developing and selecting indicator metrics that will track the status and progress on all ten of the One Water objectives.  Our criteria for adopting an indicator metric was that it must be meaningful and it must be relatively inexpensive to collect – or already available.  With a solid set of indicator metrics now in place (See current lists of metrics HERE), we have begun to gather and assemble data on today’s status for each metric indicator.  We expect to have preliminary baseline values for all of the metrics by the end of June.  With more than 70 metrics supporting the ten objectives, the task is time-consuming. We have been collecting data from published, online, and internal reports, from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and from personal interviews with subject experts.  Even the “easy-to-collect” metrics typically entail pulling data from multiple sources and running analyses that have never been conducted before!  This first run of data collection will help to create a baseline assessment of status for our ten objectives. It will also provide us insight into which metrics are most valuable, and whether any should be revised for future assessments.  As a living document, the One Water plan will definitely benefit from our active learn-as-you-go mindset.

MEASURING WATERSHED HEALTH

As we develop the One Water Plan, one major consideration is to be able to track future improvements we might gain through the integrated water resources management approach.  The answer lies in developing meaningful metrics to track our success, specifically our success at achieving the One Water objectives.  Ten objectives were developed through our collaborative stakeholder and science-backed process (see Goals and Objectives Tab/Objectives).  We are developing metrics to track our progress over time for each objective, and for the plan as a whole.
objectivesa-j_simple-barchartTo measure progress at meeting our objectives, we had to delve into the critical components of each one – how can we measure progress in a clear and meaningful way?

First, we identified attributes , effectively representing characteristics of the objective.  Second, metrics are being developed to demonstrate what about each attribute should be measured, by asking our subject-matter experts “what are the important and measurable indicators that will show us progress over time?”  Third, targets will be established to set an end goal.  The above status chart (using purely hypothetical values) shows how, once we set targets, we can chart progress toward the target of each objective, and see them all at the same time (meeting a target = 100% achievement on the chart). The overall goal is to be able to show how we are moving from Point A (baseline condition) to Point B (target) over time by implementing activities recommended through One Water.  Success means a healthier watershed in terms of stream stewardship, flood risk reduction, and water supply.

Go to the Goals and Objectives Tab now and look for Measuring Progress to see the latest draft of proposed metrics.  And stay tuned for a future blog update on how we are setting targets!

 

What is that One Water logo all about?

one-water-logo-postLogos are powerful ways to make a first impression. And they’re great for visually representing what we stand for.

The water district is particularly proud of our logo for the effort to improve water resources management. At first glance, it bears a close resemblance to a flower. But let us tell you a little bit more about what all those “petals” represent. You’ll soon see it’s more than just a pretty picture.

Developed by Project Manager Brian Mendenhall and district Graphic Designer Joy Lim, the logo illustrates that One Water is all about managing many types of water, whether directly or in coordination with other planning efforts.

In the center is the large water drop, symbolizing our foundation. Each petal is actually a water drop of its own, representing the different forms of water the district is concerned with, including groundwater, stormwater, floodwater, recycled water, raw water, imported water, water for habitat and water for the baylands. As in the real world, all are connected to each other.

Our logo is a vital way communicating what our mission is all about. We look forward to sharing all of that with you as we move ahead! Stay tuned.

 

The One Water map is live!

MapTool-thWe want you to explore your watersheds! And using maps is a powerful tool to begin to understand how various water resource topics relate to each other.

The One Water Plan webpage allows you to use our map interface to turn data layers on and off and zoom in and out. And you can now enter your input from the comfort of your own home via the web form on the “Map Your Concerns” tab. We’ll collect this input and add it to the One Water Community Input layer, allowing users to see where their community is identifying challenges and opportunities across the watershed and allow the water district to consider your input for future planning.

The update is live. So give it a try by clicking here!

 

Who is involved?

The people behind the One Water Plan have many years of experience with successfully building community partnerships.

  • Afshin Rouhani| Engineering Unit Manager | Water Resources Planning and Policy
  • Brian Mendenhall | Project Manager | Office of Water Resources and Plan
  • Sara Duckler | Senior Engineer | Office of Water Resources and Planning
  • Tracy Hemmeter| Senior Project Manager| Water Supply Planning and Conservation
  • Tony Mercado | Public Information Representative | Communications and Customer Engagement

Contact the One Water Plan staff here.