basins into focus and enable us to better
manage the region’s water resources.
The Good Data Bridge
As MWA continued its data-driven journey
establishing science as our foundation for de-cision-
making, a wonderful thing happened
along the way: we gained public trust. Good
data proved to be a bridge between a skeptical
public and our agency. As our team rolled out
charts, maps, and studies of the basins’ health,
community members might not have liked
us, but they trusted the science. This was nev-er
more evident than in our recent update of
the agency’s Integrated Regional Water Man-agement
Plan. In late spring of 2013, MWA
and its partners began this process. Members
of the public who had not previously partic-ipated
attended meetings regularly and pro-vided
valuable input. A website dedicated
exclusively to the plan was developed (www.
mywaterplan.com), and a staff member was as-signed
to respond to emails and phone calls
to ensure all voices were heard. The process
was inclusive and transparent, and the new
IRWM Plan was adopted in July 2014.
Mojave Water Agency’s story is not much
different from California’s current story.
In 2000, the agency faced a skeptical com-munity
that only science-based data and
transparency could overcome. In California,
the public is skeptical and hungry for infor-mation
on water levels, water quality, water
production and other related water resource
data. People don’t want to simply follow new
rules and regulations. They want to become
part of the solution.
As our world continues to change with
evolving state and federal regulations, water
agencies will be in the spotlight, particularly
in relationship to urban development. Califor-nia’s
new groundwater laws require the im-plementation
of a Groundwater Sustainability
Plan (GSP) and groundwater monitoring to
support these efforts. Each plan must have
Basin Management Objectives, and progress
must be quantifiable, requiring sufficient data
collection to document progress towards sus-tainability.
Further, groundwater monitoring
plans must show a clear connection between
the type and quantity of data collected and the
sustainability metrics detailed in a GSP.
Adapting to the New World
This is a new world for us in the water in-dustry.
So how do we rise to meet these new
challenges? First, as a state, as a nation, and
as a profession, we must prepare the next
generation of professionals with the tools to
address water management from a science
foundation. Tomorrow’s water management
teams must be nimble scientists, engineers,
planners, and GIS experts who are ready and
eager to explore all possibilities.
Second, as an industry, we must invest in
technology and human resources. We must
work collaboratively with our local colleges
and universities to develop curriculum to
prepare the next generation. We must grow
professionals in our organizations and offer
career development. This will require finan-cial
investment, organizational change, and
commitment from decision-makers that will
take us out of our comfort zones.
Lastly, we must discard parochial practices
that water data is proprietary, and embrace
transparency. It begins with each of us laying
all our cards on the table. It’s the only way
we can all win this hand. S