Water management that integrates natural features reduces costs and increases benefits, but integrated approaches are not yet standard practice. Rather than restoring degraded headwaters and the services they provide, spending continues to focus on traditional infrastructure to solve water problems with little consideration of alternatives.
California’s 2016 Assembly Bill Number 2480, however, says that “source watersheds are recognized and defined as integral components of California’s water infrastructure.” The law acknowledges that such infrastructure is actually responsible for producing the greatest quantity of California’s potable and irrigation water, while also maintaining reliability, timing, and quality.
The law also makes watershed upgrades eligible for financing just like traditional water infrastructure projects. Some activities encouraged by the law are management of upland vegetation for restoration of watershed resilience and productivity, restoration of wet and dry meadows, removal of roads or road repair; and channel restoration in streams.