CWAC members are working together to advance projects that protect and enhance California's freshwater resources. Click through the drop-down list below to learn more about our current collective actions.

This state is rich with businesses, non-profits, academics, farmers, agencies, and other thought leaders developing innovative solutions to our freshwater challenges. We believe the best ideas will emerge when these creative minds unite. Not all projects include all members.

American river headwaters

In August 2015, The Nature Conservancy assisted the American River Conservancy in acquiring a 10,115-acre forested property in the Sierra Nevada with the goal of restoring forest health and resilience, reducing risk of destructive wildfires, and researching the link between ecologically-based forest thinning and water supply. The property is situated directly upstream of French Meadows and Hell Hole Reservoirs, two critical sources of drinking water and hydropower for Sacramento and the surrounding region. The land also has high recreational value – it is traversed by the renowned Western States and Tevis Cup trails, and it supports an outstanding fishery for rainbow trout.

Together with adjacent Forest Service lands, the property —referred to as the American River Headwaters—will serve as a living laboratory for scientists to test how landscape-scale restoration can improve watershed health and wildlife habitat, reduce the risk of megafires, and potentially increase water supply. Led by CWAC member The Nature Conservancy, and with support from other CWAC members, researchers will test the hypothesis that thinning small trees and brush from unnaturally dense forests to reduce wildfire risk and increase forest health may increase water yield in the American River watershed by up to 1-3%.

By working with University of California researchers, local water utilities, surrounding landowners like the U.S. Forest Service, and other stakeholders, CWAC members aim to implement ecologically-based practices on a landscape scale, while identifying policy and management best practices that can be implemented in other Sierra watersheds and across the American West.

Corporate Water Stewardship & the California Water Action Plan

In January 2014, the administration of Governor Brown released the California Water Action Plan – a roadmap for the first five years of the state’s journey toward sustainable water management. The plan identifies how state agencies, municipalities, and their partners can work together to create a more reliable water supply for farms and communities, restore important wildlife habitat and species, and help California’s water systems and environment become more resilient.

There is a strong opportunity for California's business community to contribute to the Action Plan, improving the measurement, management, and stewardship of shared natural resources in a manner that also supports sustainable economic growth. Toward this end, the CEO Water Mandate – a corporate water stewardship initiative administered jointly by the UN Global Compact and the Pacific Institute – is facilitating a statewide collaboration with CWAC members and other partners to identify specific opportunities where the private sector can help accelerate progress toward the Plan's vision.

In the first phase of this project (current), participants are working to identify relevant stakeholders, examples of successful collaborative water projects across the State, and gaps in the Action Plan's implementation that the business community can help fill. In Phase Two, participating organizations will jointly develop, commit to, and implement new water stewardship initiatives aligned with Action Plan goals and needs.

  • Project lead: Pacific Institute | CEO Water Mandate
  • Participating CWAC members: Nestlé North America | Ag Innovations | Olam | WWF
  • Additional partners: Ericsson | Veolia North America*
  • To learn more: Visit https://wateractionhub.org/californiawaterstewardship/, or contact Jason Morrison, Corporate Sustainability Program Director, Pacific Institute - jmorrison@pacinst.org

Farmland Groundwater Recharge

Sustainable Conservation and its partners are leading a project to utilize farmland to recharge groundwater using floodwater. Together, they are putting into action an affordable and innovative water management practice that enables farmers to help move groundwater basins in the San Joaquin Valley toward a sustainable balance of groundwater pumping and replenishment.

Their solution more closely mimics the natural floodplain process of rivers spreading seasonally across the valley to replenish the groundwater aquifers below while maintaining management decisions by the farmer. The project enlists the support of farmers, industry groups, irrigation districts, researchers, policy makers and businesses to help ensure water supply continuity for agricultural production and community drinking water, improved groundwater quality, and flood protection for rural communities.

  • Project lead: Sustainable Conservation
  • Participating CWAC members: Campbell Soup Company | General Mills Foundation | MillerCoors | The Coca-Cola Company | The Water Foundation
  • Additional partners: Almond Board of California | Bank of America Foundation | Bonneville Environmental Foundation | California Department of Food and Agriculture | California Department of Water Resources | California State University Fresno – California Water Institute | Kings River Conservation District | Laguna Irrigation District | Madera Irrigation District | San Joaquin Valley Greenprint – Fresno Council of Governments | The Battery Foundation | Tulare Irrigation District | University of California Cooperative Extension | University of California Davis | Wells Fargo Foundation | William C. Bannerman Foundation
  • To learn more: Contact Kelli McCune, Senior Project Manager, Sustainable Conservation – kmccune@suscon.org

San Gabriel Watershed

The San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and the Angeles National Forest are critically important to area water supplies, providing one-third of Los Angeles County’s drinking water. The rivers and creeks that flow out of the mountains recharge the local groundwater aquifers and provide important surface water for millions of people that live downstream.

After the 2009 Station Fire caused extensive damage to the area, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and several local groups recognized the urgent need for a multi-year effort to restore the impaired watershed. Recognizing this critical resource as well as their reliance on the forested headwaters that provide their businesses with water, several CWAC corporate members saw an opportunity to align company needs and values with those of local organizations and communities.

In 2015, these CWAC members began a partnership with NFF to help restore hundreds of millions of gallons of water annually to the damaged San Gabriel Watershed. By removing 50 acres of a water intensive and prolific invasive species called Arundo donax, or giant cane, the project is returning significant amounts of water to area streams, improving the well-being of the San Gabriel Watershed for wildlife and Southern Californians.

We anticipate these projects evolving, and new projects emerging, as CWAC's membership grows and the state's water challenges shift over time. Follow our progress here, and see the latest CWAC updates on our News page. To learn about other water stewardship projects in California, visit the CEO Water Mandate's Water Action Hub.