Santa Cruz IRWM Conceptual Framework

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Executive Summary excerpt

The Santa Cruz Integrated Water Management (IRWM) Conceptual Framework was developed to supplement the update of the 2005 Northern Santa Cruz IRWM plan. The existing 2005 IRWM plan is derived from numerous water and water‐resources related plans and studies, and at its core consists of a list of priority projects. The existing prioritization process evaluates projects against a set of funding objectives and their state of readiness, among other factors. While this is appropriate for developing funding proposals, it does not necessarily prioritize strategies for their potential to achieve the plan’s objectives. As part of the plan update, the Steering Committee seeks to implement a planning process that will more directly link strategies with achievement of objectives. The process and final products of this conceptual framework is intended to guide priority action selection in an effort to ensure that those actions with the greatest benefit are identified. The conceptual framework will also assist in the selection and interpretation of meaningful indicators to track progress toward regional IRWM objectives over time. This approach allows managers to identify the most influential actions for achieving IRWM objectives and select appropriate performance measures to characterize how actions incrementally contribute to achieving these objectives.   Conceptual models were created for each of the four IRWM functional areas (Water Supply, Water Quality, Aquatic Ecosystems, and Stormwater/Flood Management) and include goals, objectives, diagrams and tables that will guide effective strategy implementation (Chapters 3‐6). Each conceptual model represents a hypothesis of cause and effect between components of the system and management strategies. A climate change vulnerability assessment (Chapter 2.4) was completed with best available projections of future climatic conditions and used to identify strategies with climate change adaptation benefits. Explicitly stated within each conceptual model is the hypothesis that effective implementation of particular strategies will result in an improvement of natural resource conditions. Specific indicators and performance measures were identified that will be used to measure changes over time. The framework structure provides the documentation to guide regional managers in identifying the highest priority water resources strategies for achieving IRWM objectives.