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Local governments, agencies, and organizations in Santa Cruz County share a history of long-range planning efforts at the scale of individual groundwater basins, watersheds, and jurisdictions. In 1998, a variety of entities came together to support coordinated programs for water resources and watershed management. Between 2002 and 2004, local agencies and special districts began integrated planning efforts, including coordination of water bond funding. 

In 2005, local agencies collaborated on the development of an initial Integrated Regional Water Management Plan (IRWMP) to address the region's water supply, water quality, and resource stewardship needs. In 2006, the Partner Agencies signed a Memorandum of Agreement and most formally adopted the IRWMP. Development of the IRWM Plan helped secure a competitive $12.5 million grant awarded  by the State Water Resources Control Board for the implementation of high-priority water resource projects between 2008 – 2013.

In 2011, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) awarded $999,750 to the Regional Water Management Foundation to support an update of the Region’s IRWM Plan and to complete key technical studies to inform water resources management. This work provided critical data to evaluate resource management strategies to address the water resource challenges facing the Region. 

In 2016, DWR awarded a $1.2 million grant to partially fund the implementation of three projects, including two drinking water supply reliability projects and upgrades to a waste water/recycled water treatment facility.

In 2018, in conjunction with the other five IRWM regions in the Central Coast, the IRWM disadvantaged communities (DACs) Involvement Program will begin.
Santa Cruz IRWM Timeline