Twenty years ago, the Regional Water Authority emerged after a two-year process focused on creating a unified approach to regional water issues in the Sacramento region.
On October 7, 2021, local water providers, policymakers and water industry leaders came together to mark the past two decades of collaboration, as well as take an important look forward at the challenges and opportunities to come.
“You and the predecessors did what not a lot of people have done, which is set down your territorialism and parochial interests … and come together to manage the watershed like the shared resource that it is,” said keynote speaker Wade Crowfoot, Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency. “These milestones can feel a little perfunctory. But the fact is that you’ve been together 20 years, and the work that you’ve done over the past two decades puts you into a better position to weather the current climate realities than in many parts of the state. And that is a big deal that needs to be acknowledged.”
The night’s theme—Stronger Together—reflected both the RWA’s history, as well as a path forward through the challenges to come, said RWA Board Chair Sean Bigley, Assistant Director of the City of Roseville’s Environmental Utilities. Climate change, in particular, is expected to alter the region’s water storage and delivery system in ways that will require innovative new methods for managing, capturing and storing water.
“I believe we are already leading the way, because of the foundation the RWA has provided over the past 20 years,” Bigley said, citing a foundation in the Water
Forum Agreement, which seeks to balance the water needs of people and the environment; plans for unique solutions that span the region’s entire “supershed” from
the mountain tops to the groundwater basin; and a track record for sustainably managing groundwater that will allow the Sacramento region to continue implementing SGMA and provide a means for tapping groundwater when needed to weather dry periods.
During the event, Assemblymember Ken Cooley presented a joint resolution from the California Senate and Assembly recognizing RWA for its achievements. RWA Executive Director acknowledged and thanked the many people who have made an impact on the RWA.
“It is clear that it took many hands and voices not only to establish the RWA 20 years ago but also to nurture and grow it into the organization it is today,” said RWA Executive Director Jim Peifer, noting how the RWA has evolved to address many shared challenges and achieve significant results. These include helping members secure over $100 million in grants that support increased water supply reliability for our region, an award-winning water use efficiency program, and a state advocacy program that has successfully influenced legislative outcomes and raised the region’s profile.
“Working together, we will continue to move the RWA’s vision—our collective vision—forward and show that we are stronger together,” Peifer said. “Cheers to the next 20 years!”