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Integrating watershed management into planning in Northern California by PlaceMatters

PlaceMatters worked in partnership with Placeways, LLC, the developer of CommunityViz, and the Local Government Commission (LGC) to develop and deliver an interactive, educational workshop for citizens of Amador and Calaveras Counties in California. Recognizing the pressure future growth and development was having on the area’s water resources, the ultimate goal of the project was to develop best practices that integrated land use planning and water resource management into a cross cutting watershed plan for the two counties. The workshop attracted about 100 members of the community and took advantage of CommunityViz analysis, keypad polling, and hands-on mapping exercises, all supplemented with expert lectures, to help citizens understand interactions between land use and water. The workshop engaged elected officials and stakeholders in a discussion about land use, design, and density and how they relate to water quality and management, and demonstrated how tools such as CommunityViz can be used to create and monitor indicators.

In this project, PlaceMatters developed strategies for integrating a hands-on mapping exercise with CommunityViz in “real time” so that analysis of the maps created by participants could occur during the workshop. The workshop emphasized creative ways to gather participants’ input, and provided meaningful input to the LGC’s water and land use guide.

Final Regional Watershed Plan

Input and analysis from the workshop was integrated into the final watershed plan developed by the Local Government Commission and County Agencies. The plan provides an assessment of existing conditions and policies; an explanation of the links between land use decisions, watershed health, water quality, and water quality regulations; and strategies and recommendations moving forward. The strategies focused on locally applicable Best Management Practices for “water-wise” land use planning and site-design.