California state water experts have published the California Water Plan Update 2009. The five-volume report is the newest, most comprehensive reference document on California water conditions, challenges and water resource management.

“The 2009 California Water Plan Update sets forth a blueprint for sustainability and forges a new direction for water management in California,” said Lester Snow, secretary for Natural Resources. “Our new reality is one in which we must manage a resource characterized by uncertainty and vulnerability due to climate change and changing ecosystem needs.”

Update 2009 comes on the heels of a historic water legislation package passed by the California Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last fall. The Resource Management Strategies in update 2009 build upon the new legislation and chart a path forward into a future characterized by risk and uncertainty.

“There is a new urgency with which we must embrace water use efficiency in the context of climate change and increased urban demand,” Snow said.

The updates of the 1957 California Water Plan are required by law and have been important sources of information for water planners. Published at five year intervals, these reports have evolved beyond statistical summaries of water supply and demand into expert analyses of complex issues of hydrology, water use, conservation and emerging trends in water resource management, flood safety strategy and climate change adaptation. The plan also provides broadly supported strategic recommendations to guide future investments and inform resource management policy-making.

Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), identified the key theme as “integrated water management and sustainability.” He said the report addresses “the full spectrum of issues, concerns and visions for the future of water management in California.”

“Water Plan Update 2009 epitomizes collaboration,” Cowin said. He said it profited from intense scrutiny and input by a broad and diverse universe of experts and public advisors. A steering committee represented 21 state agencies. A 45-member public advisory committee and nearly 40 regional workshops enhanced the report’s practicality.

“Update 2009 is the product of an unprecedented four-year collaborative process,” Cowin said. “This can truly be called California’s water plan.” The update’s first volume has 13 objectives and more than 115 actions to help California cope with water demands, fluctuating supply, changing climate, growing population, managing the co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration a reliable water supply source in the Delta, and and other risks and uncertainties.

“California water management cannot be changed overnight,” commented Secretary Snow, a former DWR director, “but update 2009 and the momentum behind it provide the plans, the tools, and strategies to achieve momentous change beginning now.”

Water Plan Update 2009 is available online now with a printed version scheduled for release in May. The update includes the Water Plan Highlights and five volumes, which may be accessed online at www.waterplan.water.ca.gov/cwpu2009.