Disadvantaged Community Needs Identification

The Sierra Fund is a member of the Consumes, American, Bear and Yuba (CABY) Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) group for the north/central region of the Sierra Nevada foothills. CABY includes all or part of the four watersheds of these rivers on the western slope of the Sierra. CABY serves to integrate watershed planning and implementation activities across many diverse landscapes and communities. Members of the CABY IRWM include water agencies, local cities and towns and other governmental agencies, community organizations, environmental groups and tribal entities.

One of CABY’s mandates is to conduct a comprehensive community capacity assessment for our area that includes a water needs assessment. This project is part of a statewide data gathering effort by the California Department of Water Resources funded through Proposition 1, which passed on California’s November 2016 ballot.  The project aims to understand the water quality, water access, stormwater and sewerage needs of “disadvantaged communities” as defined by income.

Community Outreach in the City of Grass Valley

TSF is working with the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment and the Sierra Water Workgroup to drill down into the local region of Grass Valley, a “DAC” as defined by the law.  We are working to identify “community experts” to help articulate the strengths and challenges of our region, including disadvantaged communities.  This effort includes talking with long-time residents, schools, city and county staff, health and social service providers, community organizations and churches to enlist their help and participation.

As part of this CABY outreach, in cooperation with property managers, we have recently begun holding community meetings at apartment complexes in Grass Valley.  At these meetings, we present the work of The Sierra Fund to residents in the area, talk about what environmentally healthy communities are, ask participants to talk about what’s good and desirable about living in our area and what the ideal would look like.  In addition to talking about the water needs issues, TSF asks about residents’ thoughts and concerns related to heavy metals in dust, mercury in fish and air quality in Nevada County.  We talk with people about what opportunities exist to become informed and contribute to discussions about water quality and access in this area.

Outreach to Small Water Providers in Nevada and Placer Counties

As part of the Community Capacity Assessment activities, we are making contact with small water providers in Nevada and Placer Counties to help understand more clearly what the needs of small water providers are and whether opportunities exist for projects that may be eligible for State bond funding.  TSF is working to encourage smaller water providers to participate in CABY.

For more information about this project, contact:  Greg Thrush at greg.thrush@sierrafund.org  or (530) 265-8454×212.