The recently completed Santa Ana Watershed Basin Study highlights the need for more protective action focused on watersheds. Officials concluded that better management practices are essential to ensure a sustainable water future. Climate change and local population growth pose increased challenges to meeting demand projections for the next 50 years.

Santa Ana River

Santa Ana River; photo by Jenn Hickock.

Major issues include earlier snow melt and runoff, as well as sea level rises that threaten coastal communities, water infrastructure, and groundwater. The basin currently serves more than 6 million people in an area roughly 2,600 square miles in size, including parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

This basin study is one of many activities underway to help meet future water demands in the western United States. There are ways that you can get involved:

Santa Ana Watershed Association: SAWA works to restore the natural habitat of this watershed, primarily through removing invasive species and enhancing the native habitat. You can meet their team of naturalists and sign up for volunteer days listed on their calendar. Sample projects include creek cleanups and restoring oak woodland by planting acorns and hedgerows.

Annual Inner-Coastal Watershed Clean-up Day: Join the largest inland cleanup in California. This annual event started in 1997 with 135 volunteers at 5 locations. In the last few years, it has grown to more than 2,000 volunteers at 52 sites. It’s sponsored by Trails4all, and 2014 will be its eighteenth year.

Reclamation, Managing Water in the West: Learn more about the Santa Ana basin study and related programs conducted by the US Department of the Interior. Funding is available for further research.

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Posted by Mark Contorno.

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