The Coast Range Watershed Institute (CRWI) is a California scientific and educational non-profit organization registered with the State of California. The mission of the CRWI is to advance the understanding, management, and restoration of hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological resources by conducting scientific investigations, facilitating data and information sharing, and providing education and outreach.
Ensuring sustainable water supplies and maintaining in-stream flows for aquatic habitat in the face of increasing water demands and the uncertainties of climate change are among the greatest challenges facing society today. Successfully navigating these challenges requires that we re-think traditional management approaches that have tended to compartmentalize watershed processes and instead adopt a holistic approach that considers all the important hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecologic factors operating at both the project and watershed-scales.
There is scientific consensus that groundwater and surface water resources are inextricably linked. California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will eventually result in improved groundwater management in California's many of the State’s largest and most intensively managed groundwater basins. In much of the state groundwater resources remain loosely quantified and generally unregulated. In contrast, surface water is better quantified and has been by the State Water Resources Control Board Division of Water Rights for many decades. Projects proposing to use groundwater are often evaluated on a project-by-project basis without consideration of the cumulative effects of all water uses in a given watershed or a clear understanding of groundwater recharge processes, surface water/groundwater interactions, or sustainable yields.
Habitat restoration practitioners are tasked with improving conditions for endangered species, however comprehensive studies of the underlying hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological factors driving limitations in habitat availability are often poorly understood. The priority for restoration has tended to promote in-stream habitat enhancement projects. We seek to provide better understanding of aquatic habitat and in-stream flow availability at the watershed scale with the goal of optimizing the benefits of in-stream restoration projects. The California Water Action Plan has similar goals and objectives.
One of the key goals of the CRWI is to provide the regional scientific studies needed so that water managers and restoration practitioners and make better-informed decisions that consider the overall watershed context and the relevant hydrologic, geomorphic, and ecological processes and scales. We believe that this holistic scientific framework is essential for the successful management of surface water and groundwater resources and the recovery of endangered species.
Matt O’Connor, PhD--Chief Executive Officer
Mark Nolan, Environmental Educator, County of San Mateo—Secretary
Mariska Obedzinski, Fisheries Biologist, California Sea Grant--Treasurer