California cannot afford to waste or pollute its limited water supply.

We envision a California in which local water management is characterized by innovative, holistic approaches that ensure the resilience of our natural systems while enhancing the vibrancy of our built communities. LGC’s water work is approached through a water/land use nexus lens and is informed by the Ahwahnee Water Principles.

Our water team strives to increase the level of social justice in partnership with allied organizations, community members, and equity experts. We recognize that each community is unique, as are their water management issues. For each community in which we work, we evaluate the historic barriers to engagement and develop an engagement strategy to best meet the needs of the community.

Ahwahnee Water Principles

The Ahwahnee Principles for Water complements the Ahwahnee Principles for Resource-Efficient Communities that were developed in 1991. This guide provides a number of stewardship actions that cities and counties can take that reduce costs and improve the reliability and quality of our water resources.

Water Strong Communities

The Local Government Commission, with financial support from the Employment Training Panel, is offering public and private agencies low-cost training programs to help your employees respond to California’s historic drought.

Water-Energy Community Action Network, San Joaquin Valley (WE CAN – SJV)

WE CAN – SJV aims to build Water-Strong Communities by increasing access to and highlighting water-efficient best practices.

Westside Brownfields Coalition Assessment Project

The Westside Sacramento Integrated Regional Water Management Plan is kicking off a new “brownfields” project that will engage communities in the Cache and Putah Creek watersheds about abandoned mining sites.

Learn more about local government programs and policies, General Plan language, case studies and more that you can apply in your community on the following topic areas:


Growing Trees Make Great Neighborhoods

“Save Our Water and Our Trees” Campaign Goes LIVE!”

Save Our Trees Press Release – July, 22 2015

How to save your trees

Lawn trees can and must be saved during the drought. What you can do:

  1. SaveOurWaterAndOurTrees_Widget-320x320Deeply and slowly water mature trees 1 – 2 times per month with a simple soaker hose or drip system toward the edge of the tree canopy – NOT at the base of the tree. Use a Hose Faucet Timer (found at hardware stores) to prevent overwatering.
  2. Young trees need 5 gallons of water 2 – 4 times per week. Create a small watering basin with a berm of dirt.
  3. Shower with a bucket and use that water for your trees as long as it is free of non-biodegradable soaps or shampoos.
  4. Do not trim trees during drought, if possible. Pruning and drought both stress your trees.
  5. Mulch, Mulch, MULCH!  4 – 6 inches of mulch helps retain moisture, reducing water needs and protecting your trees.

Low Impact Development (LID) Alternative Compliance

The “Lower Stanislaus Low Impact Development Alternative Compliance Plan” addresses the physical and fiscal constraints of on-site LID, which are disproportionately experienced by projects in infill, brownfield, and redevelopment contexts.  LID can be land consumptive and/or too expensive for infill projects.  Infill and redevelopment areas are of particular importance given recent state legislation that encourages more compact and coordinated growth (i.e., SB 375, AB 32, formation of Strategic Growth Council, etc.). This Plan serves as a demonstration project for communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley and beyond, providing options for  local governments to comply with both stormwater management goals and sustainable growth goals.

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Model LID Standards & Specifications for Riverbank

In order to comply with existing and future stormwater discharge regulations, while promoting a resource efficient and sustainable approach to reducing stormwater runoff pollution, the City of Riverbank recognized the need to develop Low Impact Development (LID) standards and specifications. The City’s General Plan provides the overarching policy framework for a more natural approach to drainage. This document provides specific guidance for LID solutions that are customized to the local context.

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Barriers to Low Impact Development

While many communities understand the benefits of Low Impact Development (LID), getting LID projects built has been difficult. In an effort to address this issue, the Southern California Stormwater Monitoring Coalition (SMC) commissioned the Local Government Commission (LGC) in partnership with the Center for Water and Land Use at University of California, Davis Extension (UCDE) to assist with identifying barriers SMC members and other practitioners have faced and in prioritizing strategies to remove those barriers.

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The Ahwahnee Water Principles: A Blueprint for Regional Sustainability

Safe, clean water is essential to California, its nearly 37 million residents, its vibrant and diverse economy, and its cherished
quality of life. However, accessible quantities of clean wateradequate to meet California’s current and projected future needs are limited and relatively finite. It is becoming increasingly evident to policy-makers that to accommodate the often competing needs of various end-users, while providing for continued demographic and economic growth, requires careful, forward thinking management of California’s water resources.

Download the Guidebook

Water Resources and Land Use Planning: Watershed-based Strategies for Amador and Calaveras Counties

The pressure to grow and the development patterns to accommodate this growth have significant implications for water resources in Amador and Calaveras counties. This watershed plan examines the connections between land use policies, development patterns and water resources, and how these connections relate to local planning efforts. Within this plan is an assessment of existing conditions and policies; explanation of the links between land use decisions, watershed health, water quality, and water quality regulations; strategies and recommendations that match local needs, suggestions for planners, administrators and developers as they plan future developments, and implementation measures.

Download the Report

Water Resources and Land Use Planning: Watershed-based Strategies for Ventura County

The purpose of this plan is to better understand and bridge the disconnect between how we regulate land development and the standards we expect related to watershed health. This document is comprised of four main parts:

  • An assessment of existing conditions and policies to identify needs and opportunities.
  • A narrative explaining links between land use regulations in Ventura County and watershed health.
  • Specific policy recommendations for aligning land use planning, community design and stormwater/watershed management programs.
  • Technical review sheets to guide alignment of local codes and planning programs with stormwater and watershed management programs.

Download the Report

Water-Wise Development in the Sierra: A Water and Land Use Policy Guide

LGC collaborated with the Sierra Nevada Alliance to develop a guidebook for watershed-friendly land use planning and development practices in the Sierra Nevada region.

Download the Guidebook

Watershed Developed for Sierra Communities

The fast growing Sierra Nevada is home to 24 watersheds that provide over 65% of the state’s water supply. How and where future growth occurs is essential to the long-term sustainability of the region’s water. This fact sheet provides strategies to align water and land use planning.