Addressing the Disconnect: Water Resources and Local Land Use Decisions
Example of natural drainage, Village Homes, CA.
Maintaining adequate water supplies and water quality, and protecting the beneficial uses of water depends largely on land use decisions made by local government. How we plan and develop our communities has an enormous impact on the quality and quantity of California’s water. How and where we develop can either cause or avoid physical impacts to aquatic, wetland, riparian habitat and habitat connectivity, construction and post-construction urban pollution, and alteration of flow regimes and groundwater recharge.
Local land use decisions have historically resulted in a destructive cycle of inefficient use of water, fragmented habitat, destabilized streams, and engineered solutions to disrupted flow patterns, culminating in the loss of natural functions and values in the effected basins. All in all, the current disconnect between water supplies and quality and land-use regulation has resulted in chronic permitting conflicts, costly regulatory delays, and inadequate resource protection.
The relationship between land use and water will become increasingly critical given California’s projected population growth and urbanization. The California Department of Finance’s projections are for 15% population growth by 2010, 31% by 2020, and 69% by 2040.