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Home > Natural Resources > Water Strategies to Preserve Natural Resource Supplies and Quality

Regional Water Quality Report 2007

The overall statewide trend in California's water quality has been mixed

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California water conservation in watersheds According to the first ever regional survey of California quality of life by the California Regional Collaboratives (RCs), water quality has improved somewhat, but there are still challenges.

Water Quality Trends in California

When looking at the number of impaired water segments in 2002 and 2006, the overall state trend in water quality has been mixed: about half of the regions have made progress in improving their water quality. Polluted water-bodies throughout California include bays and harbors, coastal shorelines, estuaries, lakes/reservoirs, rivers/streams, saline lakes, tidal wetlands, and freshwater wetlands. Urbanization is one of the factors that directly impacts water quality; urban water runoff from roads and parking lots contain high levels of contaminants which can flow directly into streams. Runoff and other problems are exacerbated by aging infrastructure.

For this dataset, there are a few notable differences in the regional definitions in comparison to the regional definitions used in this Report: both Northeast Sierra and Southeast Sierra are included in Lahontan and Central Valley. This difference is due to the way in which the California State Water Resources Control Board groups data. They do so by predetermined regions rather than counties. The water quality in the Bay Area, North Coast, Northeast Sierra, Southeast Sierra, and the Sacramento Area is improving, as these regions had fewer impaired water segments in 2006 than in 2002. The success of improving water quality in the Lahontan region can be attributed to the reduction of impaired lakes/reservoirs, and rivers/streams.

The Southern California region used throughout this Report straddles three Water Quality Control Board regions: Colorado, Santa Ana, and Los Angeles. Although Colorado and Santa Ana had more impaired water segments in 2006 than in 2002, Los Angeles greatly reduced its number of impaired water segments. Thus, overall, water quality in Southern California improved. This substantial change in the Los Angeles region is due mostly to the reduction of impaired coastal shorelines as well as rivers/streams.

Other regions have not made as much progress in improving water quality, although there have been some steps in the right direction. For example, even though Central Coast had an overall 12% increase in its number of impaired water segments, the region reduced its number of impaired coastal shorelines from 11 to 6. Polluted runoff has been the main contributing factor to San Diego’s increase in the number of impaired water segments.


California's Regional Collaboratives (RCs) have been at the cutting edge of innovation in the field of Regional Quality of Life Indicators. Each year, several of the RCs release reports and mobilize leaders and citizens to take action around initiatives to improve their regions.

This Report is intended not as an evaluation of specific policies or planning efforts, but rather a recognition that Californians are coming together across the State and working in new ways to improve the quality of life of their regions. This process is occurring through “regional blueprint planning,” a new and innovative mechanism that moves beyond “business as usual” as we plan for our future to address the challenges and opportunities of growth.

Download The California Regional Progress Report (June 2007)

California Center for Regional Leadership
200 Pine St., Ste. 400
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone (415) 445-8975
Fax (415) 445-8974

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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