Members of The Western States Water Council gathered at Goat Rock Beach at Jenner, California

Continue empowering cross agency/organization collaboration

Continue empowering state and local agencies to work collaboratively across agencies and organizations and with interdisciplinary teams that include data experts

The Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755, Dodd)  provides a critical foundation for making California water data sufficient, accessible, useful, and used.[1] Since passage of the Act in 2016, the state has developed two federated data platforms that display publicly available natural resource data in California.[2] There is an opportunity to build on this work to make water data even more accessible, especially for community-based water data users.

“A lot of [water utilities] are still depending on bi-monthly billing processes because they don’t know what to do with the data [from real time metering systems] or they don’t have the right information technology or the staffing or the human capital that they need to deal with this information flow” —Academia 1

A common theme across interviews was that water data in California are not readily accessible. For instance, a legislative employee had difficulty accessing fundamental and current water use information from the state, such as how much water California uses on average each year. In a separate interview, an environmental NGO employee described their challenges finding and accessing water supply and use data for individual irrigation districts in the Central Valley (Environmental NGO Employee 3). An irrigation district representative stated that the information needed to procure water and purchase water supplies can be inaccessible and confusing. A grower also lamented how water data is siloed between water districts, and expressed a need for water resource data to, “be combined in a better way because everything is connected more or less in the modern world. Things are connected either physically by infrastructure or can be trade[d]” (Grower 1).

“There are climate impacts that are happening… The old ways can’t work anymore, so how do we get people to start talking more collaboratively?” —Grower

Empowering state and local agencies to work together with data experts will require intentional and ongoing work that goes above and beyond present collaborations. Currently, water management is siloed across different actors, organizations, utilities, and agencies. While California has several programs intended to improve coordination, the lack of coordinated data and a shared understanding of its function has often hindered their effectiveness. The leadership demonstrated by the Partner Agency Team, Secretary Crowfoot, and former Secretary Blumenfeld resulted in the formation of the California Water Data Consortium. Continuing to build on the Consortium’s work to enable state and non-state partnerships to tackle water data governance is more important than ever.[3]

Putting Data to Work