Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) will be the focus for some 250 water leaders from throughout California when they meet in Sacramento May 24-25.

The goal of the two-day conference -- “Integrated Regional Water Management: Working Together for California’s Water Future” – is to develop a reliable, high-quality water supply to agriculture, cities, industry and the environment.

“We made integrated regional water management a key initiative in the California Water Plan in 2005,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin, the scheduled keynote speaker whose agency and the non-profit Water Education Foundation are co-sponsoring the Sacramento conference.  “Since then, many of you have written some of the program’s many success stories that have improved water management and environmental stewardship up and down the state.”

IRWM planning emphasizes the importance of addressing multiple issues on a regional level and bringing together different perspectives to address the issues and find solutions to water challenges.

In 2002, the Legislature created the Integrated Regional Water Management Act to encourage local agencies to work together to manage and improve the quality, quantity and reliability of their water supplies. In November of 2002 California voters authorized $3.4 billion in general obligation bonds to fund a variety of water and wetlands projects. In 2006, Proposition 84 was passed by California voters to provide an additional $5.4 billion in grant funding to water supply and water quality projects. In part, these funds provide grants for IRWM planning, implementation and storm water flood management.

There are 45 IRWM groups statewide. At the May 24-25 conference representatives from water agencies, attorneys, elected officials, land use planners, environmentalists, tribes and others will learn about key strategies to implement a successful plan and projects that produce results.

An opening plenary session will present visionary perspectives of IRWM as a new focus for water management in California and how IRWM will improve statewide water management in the future.

Additional panel discussion topics will include: 
• Where is IRWM headed?
• IRWM beyond state funding: challenges and opportunities
• Success stories: making projects happen
• Decision-making strategies and tools
• Integrating water management into land use plans
• Water supply reliability strategies for a changing climate
• Broadening public participation
• Integrated flood management: environmental and water supply benefits

“Water leaders engaged in IRWM efforts across the state are shaping the future of our water resources,” said DWR’s Cowin, “Their roles are critical as they collaboratively address California’s water challenges.”

For more information about the conference and to register, go to www.watereducation.org.

Cooperating organizations for the conference are the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), California State Association of Counties and Groundwater Resources Association of California.