On August 21, as part of the ongoing development of Governor Newsom’s Water Resilience Portfolio, Friends of the River brought together a broad range of stakeholders, including WaterNow, for a day-long meeting to develop recommendations on how California can better foster innovations in water management. The group included representatives from the State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Water Resources, as well as the Governor’s office, finance experts and impact investors, NGOs, and other water industry innovators. We also heard from California Secretary for Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot and Secretary for Environmental Protection Jared Blumenfeld on how the Water Resilience Portfolio can put the State on a path to a water resilient future.

I had the pleasure of co-facilitating the Financing Innovation group together with Christine Boyle from Valor Water. Other groups tackled issues concerning procurement and requests for proposals, pilot testing and early stage development, regulatory drivers and barriers, innovation in agriculture, and water utility management and planning. Following the day’s engaging discussions, I am enthusiastic to report that on September 20 a set of 19 recommendations were submitted to the Governor. The recommendations cover a range of issues:

• Expanding ways to finance innovation by prioritizing state-level investments in innovative, decentralized strategies.
• Streamlining procurement processes in a way that creates a landscape of innovation.
• Standardizing evaluation methods and metrics so that communities can avoid repeating pilot testing of innovations.
• Establishing a single statewide system for obtaining and distributing aerial data that informs water agency planning and management.

WaterNow supported many of these recommendations and signed on to the joint effort along with 75 of our colleagues who participated in the process.

The Governor is expected to release a draft Portfolio reflecting this first round of public comment in November 2019. There will then be another opportunity for WaterNow and our members to provide feedback on that draft. We encourage everyone to get involved in this critical opportunity—the Portfolio will serve as the State’s roadmap for meeting our future water needs and ensuring environmental and economic resilience through the 21st century. Stay tuned!

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