Indicators by Goal

This page lists the set of system-wide indicators, organized under each of the 7 sustainability goals & objectives and are examples of indicators appropriate for each objective. The indicators and their component metrics were drawn from existing indicator frameworks that deal with water management, water quality, watersheds, regional sustainability, and ecosystem health. It is a list of indicators so far, not all possible or even best indicators.

Goal 1: Sustainable Water Management

  • Aquifer Declines
    Number and estimated capacity of basins with years-long aquifer declines (known as overdraft) or projected future declines.
  • Baseline Water Stress (WRI)
    Baseline water stress measures total annual water withdrawals (municipal, industrial, and agricultural) expressed as a percent of the total annual available flow. Higher values indicate more competition among users. This indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Benefits from Water Management
    Equitable distribution of economic and health benefits from water management. Society expects that public trust resources like water are provided equitably. Although inequity may accrue when water is used in particular businesses, the original supply is expected to be managed and delivered in a way that provides equitable distribution of benefits.
  • Completion of Stewardship Actions
    The completion of restoration recommendations and key actions during the implementation phase of the process.
  • Drought Resilience
    The maximum severity of drought during which core water demands can still be met, including social and environmental minimum requirements
  • Ecological Footprint
    The Ecological Footprint (EF) is a measure of the amount of biological productive land and sea area are required to meet the consumption and waste production patterns of a population or human process.
  • Energy Requirements for Water Delivery
    Energy required per unit of clean drinking water delivered.
  • Equitable Decision-Making Process
    Equitable decision-making process for water management, diversity of participating organizations. A key component to equity and environmental justice is equitable access by all parties to decision-making.
  • Flood Resilience
    The maximum flood that can be experienced without exceeding some amount (e.g., $10 million) in damages. Resilience will increase with improved flows access to floodplains and removal of infrastructure from floodplains.
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions
    Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from land or water management, industrial/commercial activities, energy production, or transportation
  • Groundwater Stress (WRI)
    Groundwater stress measures the ratio of groundwater withdrawal relative to its recharge rate over a given aquifer. Values above one indicate where unsustainable groundwater consumption could affect groundwater availability and groundwater-dependent ecosystems. The indicator was used by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Historical Drought Severity (WRI)
    Drought severity measures the average length of droughts times the dryness of the droughts from 1901 to 2008. The indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Historical Flooding Occurrence (WRI)
    Flood occurrence is the number of floods recorded from 1985 to 2011. The indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Inter-annual Variability (WRI)
    Inter-annual variability measures the variation in water supply between years. This indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Participation in Local Stewardship
    Participation rates in local stewardship by the local stakeholders such as municipalities, indigenous people, irrigation districts, community organizations, watershed associations, conservation groups, and stewardship groups.
  • Potentially Unhealthy Water Supply
    Number of people whose drinking water supply is potentially unhealthy. Whether or not water is unhealthy to drink will depend on the concentrations of specific contaminants as well as synergistic effects of multiple contaminants.
  • Storm Resilience
    The maximum storm intensity that can occur without causing more than some amount (e.g., $10 million) in damages due to water infrastructure disruptions, including levees and floods
  • Sustainable Water Usage
    Annual withdrawal of ground and surface water as a percent of total annually renewable volume of freshwater.
  • Water Demand
    Total agricultural, residential, and commercial water demand, i.e. demand for all uses other than environmental needs and basic human drinking water requirements.
  • Water Footprint
    The water footprint is the sum of the water used directly or indirectly to produce goods and services consumed by humanity. Agricultural production accounts for most of global water use, but drinking, manufacturing, cooking, recreation, washing, cleaning, landscaping, cooling, and processing all contribute to water use.
  • Water Risk (WRI)
    Water Risk refers to the risk to water supplies from changes in climate and water withdrawals. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Water Scarcity Index
    Water scarcity is a function of water availability and water use. This index is used by the global Environmental Protection Index and represents the over-use of water in a region.
  • Water Stress Index
    Water stress index is typically defined as the relationship between total water use and water availability. The closer water use is to water supply, the more likely stress will occur in natural and human systems. This indicator has been used by the United Nations and others.
  • Water Travel Distance
    Distance traveled for units of drinking and irrigation water. The long-distance movement of water is one of the most energy-intensive activities in California and may cause social, economic, and environmental harm in the source areas.

Goal 2: Improve Water Supply Reliability

  • Affordable Water Prices
    Percent of drinking water suppliers which have instituted an affordable "lifeline" rate for low-income residential customers.
  • Aquifer Declines
    Number and estimated capacity of basins with years-long aquifer declines (known as overdraft) or projected future declines.
  • Available Water (WRI)
    This metric describes the total water available from natural and managed flows and comes from the World Resources Institute (WRI). It is calculated as all water flowing into the catchment from upstream catchments plus any imports of water to the catchment minus upstream consumptive use, plus runoff in the catchment.
  • Baseline Water Stress (WRI)
    Baseline water stress measures total annual water withdrawals (municipal, industrial, and agricultural) expressed as a percent of the total annual available flow. Higher values indicate more competition among users. This indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Delta: Percent Water Supplied
    Percentage of state and regional water supplied by the Delta.
  • Delta: Water Usage
    Amount of Delta water used by sector (urban, agriculture, municipal, industrial) per season and per year
  • Drought Resilience
    The maximum severity of drought during which core water demands can still be met, including social and environmental minimum requirements
  • Earthquake Resilience
    The maximum earthquake intensity that can occur without causing more than some amount (e.g., $20 million) in damages due to water infrastructure disruptions, including levees
  • Energy Requirements for Water Delivery
    Energy required per unit of clean drinking water delivered.
  • Forest Land Conversion
    Forest land conversion: Total acreage over time. When forests are converted to housing and other developments, many environmental qualities will be negatively impacted.
  • Groundwater Stress (WRI)
    Groundwater stress measures the ratio of groundwater withdrawal relative to its recharge rate over a given aquifer. Values above one indicate where unsustainable groundwater consumption could affect groundwater availability and groundwater-dependent ecosystems. The indicator was used by the World Resources Institute (WRI) in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Managed Geomorphic Flows
    Magnitude and timing of managed system flows suitable for native riparian habitats and geomorphic processes. Healthy aquatic, riparian, and floodplain ecosystems require periodic high flow events, not just minimum flows.
  • Non-potable Water Needs for Agriculture
    Proportion of agricultural non-potable water needs--e.g. irrigation--met with non-potable water. The more non-potable water used for agriculture, the more potable water is available for drinking water and healthy aquatic ecosystems.
  • Percent Recycled Water
    Use of recycled water as a percent of total water used. Re-using water reduces the demand on existing and new water sources and reduces costs and impacts.
  • Protected Aquifer Recharge Areas
    Number of acres protected or enhanced in aquifer recharge areas. Natural recharge of underground water reservoirs may be the most cost-effective way to store and manage water.
  • Public support and awareness of water system protection.
    Public awareness and perceptions of the role water plays in their lives and in the environment can affect how people vote to support candidates, taxes/assessments, and bond issues. It is both important to keep the public informed to support democracy and to track their knowledge and perceptions in order to develop policies and management actions.
  • Residential Water Use & Conservation
    Average water use /household, or /capita, 20% reduction by 2020 (per state law).
  • Return Flows (WRI)
    Return flow ratio measures the percent of available water previously used and discharged upstream as wastewater. This indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Sustainable Water Usage
    Annual withdrawal of ground and surface water as a percent of total annually renewable volume of freshwater.
  • Upstream Protected Lands (WRI)
    Upstream protected land measures the percentage of total water supply that originates from protected ecosystems. Modified land use can affect the health of freshwater ecosystems and have severe downstream impacts on both water quality and quantity. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Upstream Storage (WRI)
    Upstream storage measures the water storage capacity available upstream of a location relative to the total water supply at that location. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Water Demand
    Total agricultural, residential, and commercial water demand, i.e. demand for all uses other than environmental needs and basic human drinking water requirements.
  • Water Footprint
    The water footprint is the sum of the water used directly or indirectly to produce goods and services consumed by humanity. Agricultural production accounts for most of global water use, but drinking, manufacturing, cooking, recreation, washing, cleaning, landscaping, cooling, and processing all contribute to water use.
  • Water Re-use
    Volume of water re-used (same volume can count more than once) as a fraction of total water used, including onsite, or recycled.
  • Water Risk (WRI)
    Water Risk refers to the risk to water supplies from changes in climate and water withdrawals. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Water Scarcity Index
    Water scarcity is a function of water availability and water use. This index is used by the global Environmental Protection Index and represents the over-use of water in a region.
  • Water Shortage
    Percent likelihood per year, over the next 20 years, of water shortage.
  • Water Storage and Use
    Years of average water use at current use levels represented by the current stored volume of water
  • Water Stress Index
    Water stress index is typically defined as the relationship between total water use and water availability. The closer water use is to water supply, the more likely stress will occur in natural and human systems. This indicator has been used by the United Nations and others.
  • Water Travel Distance
    Distance traveled for units of drinking and irrigation water. The long-distance movement of water is one of the most energy-intensive activities in California and may cause social, economic, and environmental harm in the source areas.

Goal 3: Contribute to Social and Ecological Benefits from Water Management

  • Abundance of Key Native Species
    Relative abundance trend of key indicator species at different life stages (i.e. Delta smelt, Longfin smelt, juvenile striped bass, Chinook salmon, all salmonid populations).
  • Abundance of Key Non-Native Species
    Relative abundance trend of key non-native species, for example Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), and harmful invasive species such as Microcystis aeruginosa and other harmful algal blooms (HAB).
  • Benefits from Water Management
    Equitable distribution of economic and health benefits from water management. Society expects that public trust resources like water are provided equitably. Although inequity may accrue when water is used in particular businesses, the original supply is expected to be managed and delivered in a way that provides equitable distribution of benefits.
  • Coastal Economy: Commercial use rate of fish populations (MLPA)
    Commercial fishing contributes to local communities' economies. Metrics or this activity includes number of individual vessels, number of trips, and total landings per fish species (weight per species and size class). Other important information includes economic and social activity indirectly triggered by fishing in coastal communities. <p> Focal species: nearshore rockfish, Dungeness crab, California halibut, and red sea urchin
  • Coastal Economy: Recreation use rate of specific areas
    Recreational fishing contributes to local communities' economies. Metrics or this activity includes number of individual vessels, number of trips, number of clients, and total landings per fish species (weight per species and size class). Other important information includes economic and social activity indirectly triggered by fishing in coastal communities. <p> Focal species: Rockfish, lingcod, and California halibut
  • Delta: Agricultural Improvements
    Investment in agricultural improvement for water management and quality in Delta region.
  • Delta: Dependent Industrial Production
    Industrial production dependent on Delta water/region per year.
  • Delta: Fishing
    Subsistence fishing use in the Delta.
  • Delta: Percent Water Supplied
    Percentage of state and regional water supplied by the Delta.
  • Delta: Recreational Use
    Trend in recreational use index in the Delta region.
  • Delta: Recycled Water Usage
    Use of recycled water as a percent of total water used in the Delta region.
  • Delta: Water Usage
    Amount of Delta water used by sector (urban, agriculture, municipal, industrial) per season and per year
  • Equitable Access to Clean Water
    Correlation between quality and quantity of available drinking water and household income. Equitable access to clean, plentiful drinking water is considered to be a human and cultural right. Ensuring that this basic right is met is a societal responsibility and helps us to understand equity.
  • Flow Patterns
    Flow pattern variability / alteration (both important seasonally and annually). Ecosystems depend on natural flow patterns and variability. High flows are needed to move sediment and re-work riparian and floodplain areas.
  • Flows for Fish
    Sufficient flows and timing of flows for maintaining historically-present native fish. Native fish, including anadromous species, need sufficient in-stream water to complete life-cycles, forage, disperse, seek thermal refuge, and escape predation.
  • Groundwater: CalEnviroScreen
    California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool ("CalEnviroScreen") is intended to support assessments of the potential environmental pollution effects on communities, including disadvantaged communities, in order to support reduction in disparities and threats to health. The groundwater component of CalEnviroScreen provides a relative ranking of communities' groundwater condition and so should not be considered an absolute indication of health risk or cumulative effects.
  • Index of Biotic Integrity
    An index of biotic community composition and structure, which respond to disturbance. This is a composite of several indicators of condition and can be applied using metrics for fish, algae, and benthic macroinvertebrates communities.
  • Jobs and Water Transfers
    Job-equivalents per unit of water transferred from a source region (e.g., agricultural labor force). When water is transferred among regions, source regions may lose economic benefits from the “lost” water.
  • Land Subsidence
    Land Subsidence can be the result of depletion of aquifers. Both the absolute amount and rate of subsidence are used.
  • Mercury in Fish Tissue
    Mercury in fish tissue is an important measure of water and sediment quality. for mercury to increase in concentration in fish tissue, it must be available in the environment (water and/or sediment) and methylated, usually by bacteria in hypoxic/anoxic conditions.
  • Native Fish Community
    Ratio of observed to expected native fish species in a waterbody or watershed. Fish indicators have been widely used and recognized as important tools to evaluate watershed and stream ecosystem health.
  • Native Fish Habitat and Flow
    Sufficient and adequate direction of flows for maintaining historically-present native fish. Native fish are often adapted to certain hydrologic regimes and may not tolerate modified flow patterns or quantities.
  • Potentially Unhealthy Water Supply
    Number of people whose drinking water supply is potentially unhealthy. Whether or not water is unhealthy to drink will depend on the concentrations of specific contaminants as well as synergistic effects of multiple contaminants.
  • Protected Aquifer Recharge Areas
    Number of acres protected or enhanced in aquifer recharge areas. Natural recharge of underground water reservoirs may be the most cost-effective way to store and manage water.
  • Riparian Habitat
    Naturally-occurring or artificial band of riparian vegetation along streams or rivers. This habitat type provides habitat for generalist and specialized species, protects banks against excessive erosion, provides woody material to streams, and shades streams, keeping them cool.
  • Stream Condition Index
    This is a biological index, composed of indicators & metrics representing the condition of the benthic invertebrate communities living in streams and rivers. The presence and abundance of aquatic plants and animals can provide an indication of waterway and landscape disturbance, geomorphic conditions, appropriate water availability, and water quality. Comparing the measured presence (observed) of native species or groups to the expected presence of these species or groups is one way of measuring watershed and waterway conditions.
  • Support of Environmental Measures and Regulation
    Level of support or opposition for environmental measures, such as statewide bonds and local environmental regulation (% of population).
  • Trophic State Index
    Trophic state index is a measure of how eutrophic conditions are in a water-body. Excess algal growth can indicate eutrophic conditions and is the basis of the index.
  • Water Recycling and Stream Flow
    Increase measurable benefit in in-stream flows from water recycling and conservation. Re-using and conserving water has the desired outcome of directly benefiting aquatic ecosystems.
  • Water Transfer Benefits to Local Economies
    Equitability of benefit realization for local economies in water-source and water-receiving regions due to water transfer.
  • Water Transfer Costs and Benefits
    Fiscal cost and benefit for local economy in water-source region due to water transfer. Water source regions may lose economic benefits from actively (e.g., agriculture) or passively (e.g., aesthetic enjoyment) using water.
  • Water Travel Distance
    Distance traveled for units of drinking and irrigation water. The long-distance movement of water is one of the most energy-intensive activities in California and may cause social, economic, and environmental harm in the source areas.

Goal 4: Increase Quality of Water

  • Abundance of Key Non-Native Species
    Relative abundance trend of key non-native species, for example Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), and harmful invasive species such as Microcystis aeruginosa and other harmful algal blooms (HAB).
  • Amount of Industrial Pollutants Released
    Tons of industrial pollutants released and disposed of by watershed/region. Industrial waste may be released into waterways, soils, and the atmosphere. This may introduce chemicals into ecosystems, the air we breathe and the water we drink.
  • Delta: Water Quality and Irrigated Lands
    Percentage of irrigated lands that meet water quality standards in Delta Region
  • Equitable Access to Clean Water
    Correlation between quality and quantity of available drinking water and household income. Equitable access to clean, plentiful drinking water is considered to be a human and cultural right. Ensuring that this basic right is met is a societal responsibility and helps us to understand equity.
  • Fertilizer Application Rate
    Rate of fertilizer applied per unit area (kg/ha). Fertilizer contains chemicals (e.g., forms of nitrate) that can harm aquatic ecosystems and degrade drinking water quality.
  • Groundwater Nitrate
    Groundwater describes water in soil and sub-soil substrates (e.g., aquifers) that is replenished across various time-frames by surface water that percolates to these underground reservoirs. For this water to be useable to meet human needs (e.g., drinking, irrigation) it must meet the same kinds of water quality requirements as surface water. One indicator of groundwater quality is nitrate concentration.
  • Groundwater Water Quality Index
    Groundwater water quality index. Because there are many possible contaminants that can affect the quality of drinking water, combining consideration of multiple indicators of quality into one index can help understand general groundwater quality.
  • Groundwater: CalEnviroScreen
    California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool ("CalEnviroScreen") is intended to support assessments of the potential environmental pollution effects on communities, including disadvantaged communities, in order to support reduction in disparities and threats to health. The groundwater component of CalEnviroScreen provides a relative ranking of communities' groundwater condition and so should not be considered an absolute indication of health risk or cumulative effects.
  • Impervious Surface: Water Quality Index
    Proportion of watershed covered by impenetrable materials such as roads, parking lots, and buildings preventing water from leaching directly into the soil. Water quality is affected by impervious surface development in watersheds. The more impervious surfaces are developed, the greater the chance that water quality will be degraded.
  • Non-potable Water Needs for Agriculture
    Proportion of agricultural non-potable water needs--e.g. irrigation--met with non-potable water. The more non-potable water used for agriculture, the more potable water is available for drinking water and healthy aquatic ecosystems.
  • Percent Recycled Water
    Use of recycled water as a percent of total water used. Re-using water reduces the demand on existing and new water sources and reduces costs and impacts.
  • Periphyton Cover and Biomass
    The amount and extent of cover of algae attached to the benthos and other underwater surfaces. Excess algae can harm aquatic ecosystems and reflects a combination of effects of land and water use on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Pollutant and Bacteria Index
    An index composed of indicators of chemical and bacterial pollution. Indices lack the precision of individual component indicators, but can provide evidence of overall condition.
  • Potentially Unhealthy Water Supply
    Number of people whose drinking water supply is potentially unhealthy. Whether or not water is unhealthy to drink will depend on the concentrations of specific contaminants as well as synergistic effects of multiple contaminants.
  • Stream Condition Index
    This is a biological index, composed of indicators & metrics representing the condition of the benthic invertebrate communities living in streams and rivers. The presence and abundance of aquatic plants and animals can provide an indication of waterway and landscape disturbance, geomorphic conditions, appropriate water availability, and water quality. Comparing the measured presence (observed) of native species or groups to the expected presence of these species or groups is one way of measuring watershed and waterway conditions.
  • Upstream Protected Lands (WRI)
    Upstream protected land measures the percentage of total water supply that originates from protected ecosystems. Modified land use can affect the health of freshwater ecosystems and have severe downstream impacts on both water quality and quantity. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Water Treatment Cost
    Cost of water treatment.

Goal 5: Safeguard Environmental Health

  • Abundance of Key Native Species
    Relative abundance trend of key indicator species at different life stages (i.e. Delta smelt, Longfin smelt, juvenile striped bass, Chinook salmon, all salmonid populations).
  • Abundance of Key Non-Native Species
    Relative abundance trend of key non-native species, for example Brazilian waterweed (Egeria densa) and water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), and harmful invasive species such as Microcystis aeruginosa and other harmful algal blooms (HAB).
  • Amount of Industrial Pollutants Released
    Tons of industrial pollutants released and disposed of by watershed/region. Industrial waste may be released into waterways, soils, and the atmosphere. This may introduce chemicals into ecosystems, the air we breathe and the water we drink.
  • Aquatic Fragmentation
    Aquatic fragmentation in a watershed or hydrologic region. When streams are crossed by roads or dams, the portions above and below the potential barrier are separated from each other in a process called fragmentation. This can interfere with physical processes and movement of aquatic organisms.
  • Channel Alteration
    Artificial alteration of channel sides and/or bottom. Artificially armoring banks, lining channels with concrete, and fixing channels in place can all affect both aquatic and riparian/floodplain ecosystems.</
  • Coastal Biodiversity: Species diversity and richness (MLPA)
    Diversity of species and functional groups and richness (number) of species are useful information fro understanding ecosystem stability. Narrower measures of diversity, for example within one zone or ecosystem type or for one taxonomic group (e.g., birds) could provide more interpretable information than measuring the entire diversity of an area. Rocky intertidal areas are probably the most feasible place to collect data for this indicator, though this system type is also subject to dramatic natural and artificial disturbances.
  • Coastal Economy: Commercial use rate of fish populations (MLPA)
    Commercial fishing contributes to local communities' economies. Metrics or this activity includes number of individual vessels, number of trips, and total landings per fish species (weight per species and size class). Other important information includes economic and social activity indirectly triggered by fishing in coastal communities. <p> Focal species: nearshore rockfish, Dungeness crab, California halibut, and red sea urchin
  • Coastal Economy: Recreation use rate of specific areas
    Recreational fishing contributes to local communities' economies. Metrics or this activity includes number of individual vessels, number of trips, number of clients, and total landings per fish species (weight per species and size class). Other important information includes economic and social activity indirectly triggered by fishing in coastal communities. <p> Focal species: Rockfish, lingcod, and California halibut
  • Coastal Fauna: Abundance of larval, juvenile, YOY fish
    Early life stages of fish species are more sensitive to disturbance than adult forms. They are also critically important to maintaining and increasing fish populations. These early stages may live in habitat types different from the adult forms and are thus subject to different natural and artificial pressures. Abundance of various early stages of individual species provides important information about those species, Diversity of early forms in a particular habitat type or location may point to the important nursery role of that habitat.
  • Coastal Fauna: Fledging rate of seabirds (MLPA)
    Populations of annual breeding success of many seabirds fluctuates annually in response to prey availability and quality. Hence, seabirds are frequently used as indicators of food web changes in marine ecosystems. Cassin's auklet is a small diving seabird that feeds primarily on krill, mysids, and some larval fish. There is an existing historical record for this species, including average number of offspring per year from each breeding pair. The large-scale dispersal of this bird species means that range-wide and regional assessment of trend and condition can be made. Pigeon guillemots are found along rocky shores and in inshore waters. They dive and feed on sculpins, sand lance, and smelt. While nesting, pigeon guillemots are sensitive to local disturbance. Prey availability and nest disturbance may be reflected in breeding success for many seabirds (fledging rate). <p> Focal species: Cassin's auklet, pigeon guillemot, Brandt's cormorant, pelagic cormorant, and common murre
  • Coastal Fauna: Focal invertebrate species (sea urchin, sea star, abalone), density and size (MLPA)
    In marine and estuarine ecosystems, many invertebrates play key roles as herbivores, detritivores, and predators and are often termed "strong ecological interactors". Abundance of individual species can provide information about the ability of the ecosystem to capture and cycle nutrients and primary production to other trophic levels. <p> Focal species for rocky systems: purple sea urchin, red sea urchin, red abalone, black abalone, giant/owl limpet, and various sea stars. <p> Focal species for soft-bottom systems: Dungeness crab, sand crabs, razor clams, and sea stars.
  • Coastal Fauna: Harbor seal abundance (MLPA)
    Harbor seals are an important apex predator, feeding on a diverse range of fish and invertebrates in nearshore waters including herrings, sardines, hake, flounder, sole, octopus, squid and crabs. Harbor seals spend about half of their time hauled out resting, sunning, reproduction, and interacting socially. Haul-outs can be in any coastal habitat and are locations suitable for assessing seal populations and role of local and regional disturbance in seal abundance.
  • Coastal Fauna: Planktivorous fish, density and size (MLPA)
    Planktivorous fish (fish that eat plankton) abundance and size structure are indicative of the ability of the ecosystem to capture nutrients provided by the influx of plankton. These could b species that specialize in plankton, or juvenile stages of other species that eat plankton. <p> Focus species: Blue rockfish
  • Coastal Fauna: Predatory (piscivorous) fish, density and size (MLPA)
    The presence and increased abundance of predators indicates well-being in other trophic levels. Within kelp ecosystems, piscivorous fish may also play key ecological roles in moderating food web structure through top-down control. Certain fish are targeted by recreational and commercial anglers and well-being of populations of these species will provide social and economic benefits to coastal communities. Abundance and population structure (size classes) are important metrics for this indicator. <p> Focal species include: Various rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, bocaccio, leopard shark, and bat ray
  • Coastal Fauna: Predatory (piscivorous) sea and shore birds, density and size (MLPA)
    Resident and migratory birds forage in soft-sediment and rocky-intertidal ecosystems on a wide range of fish and invertebrate species. Populations of these birds can vary with climatic and oceanographic conditions as well as availability of prey in intertidal systems. Diversity of species and abundance of species are both important metrics. <p> Focal species: black oystercatchers, Brandt's cormorant, pelagic cormorant, pigeon guillemot, and common murre
  • Coastal Fauna: Predatory benthic invertebrates (soft-bottom, MLPA)
    As in many ecosystems, in soft-bottom habitats, predators may play an important role in structuring animal communities. The density and size structure of focal predator species can indicate health of other trophic levels. The benthic invertebrates referred to here are those with a strong association with the substrate and may be subject to fishing pressure. <p> Focal species: Dungeness crab and sea star
  • Coastal Fauna: Predatory, demersal fish (soft-bottom, MLPA)
    Predators can play an important role in structuring community composition within ecosystems. Abundance and size structure of a range of fish species can provide information about the health of multiple trophic levels. Demersal fish are those with a strong association with the substrate. Many of these species may be subject to strong fishing pressure. <p> Focal species: California halibut, starry flounder, and sanddab
  • Coastal Fauna: Recruitment rate of fish
    Fish species vary in their reproductive strategies, from live birthing (e.g., certain sharks) to targeted release of gametes (e.g., salmon). Most larval fish stages must feed by the time their yolk is depleted. Availability of prey, climatic/oceanographic conditions, predation, stranding, pollution, and various natural & artificial disturbance can affect larval stages and thus recruitment of young into the juvenile-adult population. Although recruitment rates will naturally vary, measuring trends in rate for individual or many species across years or decades will provide important information about coastal ecosystem health.
  • Coastal Fauna: Recruitment rate of invertebrates
    Marine invertebrates vary in their reproductive strategies, from brooding until settlement to broadcast spawning of gametes and from direct developing (non-feeding) forms to long-lived larval stages. Regardless of strategy, recruitment rates into existing or new habitat can determine survival of a species and adaptation to new conditions. Recruitment can be measured as successful settling or juvenile stages into appropriate habitat for the juvenile and/or adult form.
  • Coastal Fauna: Surf zone fish assemblage (MLPA)
    Near-shore shallow-water habitats are home to a range of fish species, including juveniles that seek refuge from predators in open water as well as resident species that forage in the surf zone on fish and invertebrate prey. Surfperch play a major link in trophic transfer in the near-shore: their diet consists of isopods, amphipods, copepods, molluscs, and polychaete worms. They in turn are prey for larger fish, such as kelp bass, California halibut, sturgeon, rockfish and salmon, as well as harbor seals and birds. Surfperch and surf smelt are both subject to fishing pressure and surfperch may be in decline in California. <p> Focal species: Surfperch and surf smelt
  • Coastal Fauna: Suspension feeders abundance and size (MLPA)
    Suspension feeders play an important role in ecosystems, converting phytoplankton to biomass and, as prey, providing energy available to higher trophic levels. Presence of sand crabs indicates a beach with sufficient nutrient inputs and size of the beach populations may be related to near-shore richness. Sand crab populations are generally robust and may vary with climatic and oceanographic conditions. Razor clams are one of thelongest-lived organisms in the sandy intertidal so they may integrate ecosystem conditions over long time-frames. <p> Focal species: sand crabs and razor clams
  • Coastal Habitat: Biogenic habitat, extent and structure of macroalgal/plant communities (MLPA)
    In temperate marine ecosystems, loss of biogenic habitat (i.e., habitat formed by the growth and architecture of particular species) has contributed to declines in fish and invertebrate popilations and loss of species diversity. In estuarine ecosystems, habitat provisioning by eelgrass (Zostero marina) is critical to maintaining the ecological roles played by these estuaries as nursery and foraging habitats. In rocky-bottom ecosystems, canopy-forming kelp species (Macrocystis pyrifera and Mereocystis leutkeana) are primary producers and provide habitat by serving as surface area for sessile organisms and refuges for young fish. <p> Extent and structure (stem density and size structure) of these habitats are important metrics. These can cycle with environmental conditions and herbivore pressure.
  • Coastal Processes: Zonation and change in zonation of intertidal species (SLR)
    In the presence of naturally varying tides and storm conditions, intertidal organisms occupy certain ranges, or zones, within intertidal areas. These zones vary in width and location depending on local topography and wave/tide reach. As sea levels change and storm conditions intensify with climate change, these zones will be altered in location, with some organisms occupying new territory and others potentially being excluded from certain areas due to lack of habitat. The intertidal monitoring program LIMPETS is tracking occupied zones over time, comparing their new records (collected by high school students) with records collected over the last 30+ years by Dr. John Pearse of UC Santa Cruz.
  • Completion of Stewardship Actions
    The completion of restoration recommendations and key actions during the implementation phase of the process.
  • Conservation and Restoration Projects
    Number of conservation and restoration projects. The presence of these types of projects may indicate both social commitment to the environment and changing environmental quality.
  • Ecological Footprint
    The Ecological Footprint (EF) is a measure of the amount of biological productive land and sea area are required to meet the consumption and waste production patterns of a population or human process.
  • Fertilizer Application Rate
    Rate of fertilizer applied per unit area (kg/ha). Fertilizer contains chemicals (e.g., forms of nitrate) that can harm aquatic ecosystems and degrade drinking water quality.
  • Floodplain Restoration
    Extent of floodplain restoration and connection between channel and floodplain. Both the absolute amount of protection and restoration and the proportion of the historic area are informative.
  • Flow Patterns
    Flow pattern variability / alteration (both important seasonally and annually). Ecosystems depend on natural flow patterns and variability. High flows are needed to move sediment and re-work riparian and floodplain areas.
  • Flows for Fish
    Sufficient flows and timing of flows for maintaining historically-present native fish. Native fish, including anadromous species, need sufficient in-stream water to complete life-cycles, forage, disperse, seek thermal refuge, and escape predation.
  • Forest Land Conversion
    Forest land conversion: Total acreage over time. When forests are converted to housing and other developments, many environmental qualities will be negatively impacted.
  • Impervious Surface: Geomorphic Condition
    Proportion of watershed covered by impenetrable materials such as roads, parking lots, and buildings preventing water from leaching directly into the soil. The greater the proportion of watershed with impervious surfaces, the greater the likelihood of geomorphic processes and conditions being degraded due primarily to modifications of stormwater runoff dynamics.
  • Impervious Surface: Water Quality Index
    Proportion of watershed covered by impenetrable materials such as roads, parking lots, and buildings preventing water from leaching directly into the soil. Water quality is affected by impervious surface development in watersheds. The more impervious surfaces are developed, the greater the chance that water quality will be degraded.
  • Index of Biotic Integrity
    An index of biotic community composition and structure, which respond to disturbance. This is a composite of several indicators of condition and can be applied using metrics for fish, algae, and benthic macroinvertebrates communities.
  • Inter-annual Variability (WRI)
    Inter-annual variability measures the variation in water supply between years. This indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Managed Geomorphic Flows
    Magnitude and timing of managed system flows suitable for native riparian habitats and geomorphic processes. Healthy aquatic, riparian, and floodplain ecosystems require periodic high flow events, not just minimum flows.
  • Mercury in Fish Tissue
    Mercury in fish tissue is an important measure of water and sediment quality. for mercury to increase in concentration in fish tissue, it must be available in the environment (water and/or sediment) and methylated, usually by bacteria in hypoxic/anoxic conditions.
  • Native Fish Community
    Ratio of observed to expected native fish species in a waterbody or watershed. Fish indicators have been widely used and recognized as important tools to evaluate watershed and stream ecosystem health.
  • Native Fish Habitat and Flow
    Sufficient and adequate direction of flows for maintaining historically-present native fish. Native fish are often adapted to certain hydrologic regimes and may not tolerate modified flow patterns or quantities.
  • Periphyton Cover and Biomass
    The amount and extent of cover of algae attached to the benthos and other underwater surfaces. Excess algae can harm aquatic ecosystems and reflects a combination of effects of land and water use on aquatic ecosystems.
  • Plant Growth Index
    The Plant Growth Index (PGI) is a measure of long-term changes in plant community condition, based on satellite measurement of the peak annual Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. You can click on "Map Layers" items to the right of the map view to display them in the map. It is possible to turn on more than one map at a time. See more detail below the map view.
  • Pollutant and Bacteria Index
    An index composed of indicators of chemical and bacterial pollution. Indices lack the precision of individual component indicators, but can provide evidence of overall condition.
  • Preservation of Natural Habitats
    Acres of preservation of existing natural habitats and restoration of degraded habitats. Protection and restoration of natural habitats has the co-benefits of support of terrestrial habitat and aquatic ecosystem processes and condition.
  • Riparian Habitat
    Naturally-occurring or artificial band of riparian vegetation along streams or rivers. This habitat type provides habitat for generalist and specialized species, protects banks against excessive erosion, provides woody material to streams, and shades streams, keeping them cool.
  • Species Richness
    Species richness (birds, fish, invertebrates), for example, the benthic macroinvertebrate community. Species richness can be reduced by stream, riparian, and watershed degradation in response to land-use. Species richness also fluctuates with natural disturbance.
  • Stream Bank Stability
    Stream bank stability. Stream banks may become less stable due to watershed disturbance, or more stable with reductions in flow and armoring.
  • Stream Condition Index
    This is a biological index, composed of indicators & metrics representing the condition of the benthic invertebrate communities living in streams and rivers. The presence and abundance of aquatic plants and animals can provide an indication of waterway and landscape disturbance, geomorphic conditions, appropriate water availability, and water quality. Comparing the measured presence (observed) of native species or groups to the expected presence of these species or groups is one way of measuring watershed and waterway conditions.
  • Threats to Amphibians (WRI)
    Threatened amphibians measures the percentage of amphibian species classified by IUCN as threatened. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Trophic State Index
    Trophic state index is a measure of how eutrophic conditions are in a water-body. Excess algal growth can indicate eutrophic conditions and is the basis of the index.
  • Unnatural Fire Regimes
    Ecosystems and species at serious risk from unnatural fire regimes. In California, suppression of fires has lead to long intervals between fires, which can affect natural processes. These processes can recover once fire regimes are restored.
  • Upstream Protected Lands (WRI)
    Upstream protected land measures the percentage of total water supply that originates from protected ecosystems. Modified land use can affect the health of freshwater ecosystems and have severe downstream impacts on both water quality and quantity. The World Resources Institute used this indicator in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Water Recycling and Stream Flow
    Increase measurable benefit in in-stream flows from water recycling and conservation. Re-using and conserving water has the desired outcome of directly benefiting aquatic ecosystems.
  • Water Scarcity Index
    Water scarcity is a function of water availability and water use. This index is used by the global Environmental Protection Index and represents the over-use of water in a region.
  • Water Stress Index
    Water stress index is typically defined as the relationship between total water use and water availability. The closer water use is to water supply, the more likely stress will occur in natural and human systems. This indicator has been used by the United Nations and others.

Goal 6: Integrate Flood Management Activities

  • Channel Alteration
    Artificial alteration of channel sides and/or bottom. Artificially armoring banks, lining channels with concrete, and fixing channels in place can all affect both aquatic and riparian/floodplain ecosystems.</
  • Flood Resilience
    The maximum flood that can be experienced without exceeding some amount (e.g., $10 million) in damages. Resilience will increase with improved flows access to floodplains and removal of infrastructure from floodplains.
  • Flood Risk and Damage
    Expected annualized damage for flood risk. The projected cost of repair and replacement can be modeled for different flooding scenarios.
  • Floodplain Protection
    Proportion of floodplain that is protected from development that is incompatible with flooding. Conserving and restoring floodplains can have profound effects on the risk and effects of flooding.
  • Floodplain Restoration
    Extent of floodplain restoration and connection between channel and floodplain. Both the absolute amount of protection and restoration and the proportion of the historic area are informative.
  • Flow Patterns
    Flow pattern variability / alteration (both important seasonally and annually). Ecosystems depend on natural flow patterns and variability. High flows are needed to move sediment and re-work riparian and floodplain areas.
  • Historical Flooding Occurrence (WRI)
    Flood occurrence is the number of floods recorded from 1985 to 2011. The indicator was used by the World Resources Institute in the Aqueduct 2.0 project.
  • Hydrostatic Force on Levees
    Cumulative hydrostatic force on levees and other flood-control structures. This is a measure of the calculated force that rivers in flood put on segments of levee, which can highlight areas vulnerable to failure under certain flood conditions.
  • Impervious Surface: Geomorphic Condition
    Proportion of watershed covered by impenetrable materials such as roads, parking lots, and buildings preventing water from leaching directly into the soil. The greater the proportion of watershed with impervious surfaces, the greater the likelihood of geomorphic processes and conditions being degraded due primarily to modifications of stormwater runoff dynamics.
  • Levee Maintenance
    Building standard and cost of maintaining levees/assessed value of the land use they protect. This ratio of benefit to cost helps us understand levees are the most important in a system.
  • Levee Stability
    Frequency of levee breaks in the region. The frequency of levee weakening and breaking is informative about the power in the channel in particular locations.
  • Levee System Integrity Index
    Levee system integrity index (stability, risk prevention, maintenance). This combination of indicators can help prioritize particular stretches of levee for action.
  • Managed Geomorphic Flows
    Magnitude and timing of managed system flows suitable for native riparian habitats and geomorphic processes. Healthy aquatic, riparian, and floodplain ecosystems require periodic high flow events, not just minimum flows.
  • Stream Bank Stability
    Stream bank stability. Stream banks may become less stable due to watershed disturbance, or more stable with reductions in flow and armoring.

Goal 7: Improve Adaptive Decision Making

  • Adaptive Management under Changing Conditions
    Supports adaptation and resilience to climate change. The key to effective management is changing strategies and actions in response to new information and changing conditions.
  • Collaboration between Scientists and Policy Makers
    Collaboration between scientists and policy makers to understand data and communication needs. Acting together, scientists and policy amkers are more likely to develop decisions that reflect the best information AND the desires and needs of society.
  • Communication of Uncertainty
    Communication of uncertainty, which can come from natural variation, measurement error, and incomplete knowledge of how systems function. It is important for scientists and analysts to communicate this uncertainty so that it becomes useful information in management decision-making and policy formulation.
  • Data Sharing and Distribution
    Data sharing and distribution. When systems are created to facilitate data distribution, they are more likely to be understood and management is more likely to be based upon these data.
  • Equitable Decision-Making Process
    Equitable decision-making process for water management, diversity of participating organizations. A key component to equity and environmental justice is equitable access by all parties to decision-making.
  • Groundwater Quantity (GRACE)
    The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) uses a satellite-based method to estimate fluctuations in groundwater in the Earth’s surface. By subtracting the water subcomponents soil moisture, snow-water-equivalent, and surface reservoir storage, the residual GRACE signal can be interpreted to represent basin-wide groundwater changes.
  • Participation in Local Stewardship
    Participation rates in local stewardship by the local stakeholders such as municipalities, indigenous people, irrigation districts, community organizations, watershed associations, conservation groups, and stewardship groups.
  • Plant Growth Index
    The Plant Growth Index (PGI) is a measure of long-term changes in plant community condition, based on satellite measurement of the peak annual Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. You can click on "Map Layers" items to the right of the map view to display them in the map. It is possible to turn on more than one map at a time. See more detail below the map view.
  • Public Water Information Reporting System
    Public reporting system for data and results of analysis as well as methods used.
  • Public support and awareness of water system protection.
    Public awareness and perceptions of the role water plays in their lives and in the environment can affect how people vote to support candidates, taxes/assessments, and bond issues. It is both important to keep the public informed to support democracy and to track their knowledge and perceptions in order to develop policies and management actions.
  • Representation of Local Jurisdictions
    Process/data needs of local jurisdictions and geographies. Participation of local government entities in measuring conditions and performance may contribute to better decision-making.
  • Standardize Data Collection and Reporting
    Standardized methods for data collection and reporting and minimize collection biases. This approach is more likely to facilitate data and knowledge sharing, which is critical to manage complex human activities in response to similarly-complex natural systems.
  • Stream Monitoring
    Proportion of streams monitored periodically for streamflow, temperature, fisheries, stability. High rates of monitoring by public agency, or private organization programs suggest a high level of care and support for stewardship.
  • Support of Environmental Measures and Regulation
    Level of support or opposition for environmental measures, such as statewide bonds and local environmental regulation (% of population).
  • Sustainable Water Usage
    Annual withdrawal of ground and surface water as a percent of total annually renewable volume of freshwater.
  • Water Footprint
    The water footprint is the sum of the water used directly or indirectly to produce goods and services consumed by humanity. Agricultural production accounts for most of global water use, but drinking, manufacturing, cooking, recreation, washing, cleaning, landscaping, cooling, and processing all contribute to water use.
  • Workflow Processes
    Flow chart of process from data need, collection, analysis, decision-making, implementation, and results.