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Situational Analysis for the Mendocino County Water Agency

The Issue

A diverse group of agencies and districts are responsible for managing water resources in Mendocino County. Their responsibilities include providing drinking water, protecting property against flooding, and conserving aquatic habitat and threatened wildlife. The County of Mendocino has played a minor role in past efforts to meet these demands through the Mendocino County Water Agency (MCWA). From a state perspective, water supply and water quality are critical issues, and active local water agencies will be major participants in maintaining and improving those resources. Seeking to strengthen the agency’s role, Mendocino County hired an agency manager and contracted UCCE Mendocino County to conduct strategic planning for the county’s role in water resource planning, management and development.

What Has ANR Done?

UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor John Harper assembled a team of advisors and faculty to analyze the water management situation for the Mendocino County Water Agency. The group sought to identify gaps between water-resource management objectives and Mendocino County's institutional capacity to meet those objectives, to generate alternative approaches to address those gaps, and to propose steps to implement alternative approaches. To achieve these objectives, the team studied the county's water-resource management priorities. In 2003, 18 workshops were held in the county to collect input from county residents. County supervisors attended workshops held in their respective districts. The team identified similarities and differences in the priorities of MCWA clientele for water resource management across Mendocino County. Similarities include the need to represent the county to state and federal agencies and to funding organizations, to improve surface water quality, and coordinate across county departments and special districts. Differences include the role of agriculture along the Russian River and importance of aquatic habitat restoration in west county watersheds. The study results suggest how the agency may integrate and coordinate its efforts with those of other county departments and state and federal agencies to avoid duplication of services. The final report can be seen on the Web at: http://ucanr.org/mendocinowater.

The Payoff

Mendocino County Water Agency Gets Long-term Plan

The study results have provided direction to Mendocino County Water Agency and its new director on addressing short- and long-term issues. These issues include assessment of both agricultural and urban water use, location of additional water sources or storage, water supply infrastructure needs, revising the county's general plan, and water availabilty for fishery habitat, irrigated agriculture and urban development. In addition, the survey recommendation that MCWA become more involved in technical assisitance and grant acquisition has resulted in MCWA seeking and acquiring more than $250,000 in grants for monitoring and improving the Navarro Watershed and the maintenance of four USGS guaging stations. Those guaging stations are crucial for determining water flows which influence fish habitat and water availability.


John M. Harper, UCCE Livestock & Natural Resources Advisor, (707) 463-4495, jmharper@ucdavis.edu
David Lewis, UCCE Area Watershed Advisor, (707) 565-2621, djllewis@ucdavis.edu