Sacramento Regional Collaboration Study

Sacramento, California, United States

Complex water rights are not preventing collaboration in the Sacramento region

Water resources are becoming harder to obtain and more complex to allocate, regulations are more burdensome, and budgets are increasingly tight in California. The demands on agencies continue to grow as customer and stakeholder expectations simultaneously increase. In this environment, there simply aren’t enough resources to meet every need if organizations adhere to the same old ways of doing business. Innovation and improvement are critical. The Sacramento Region Water Utility Collaboration/Integration Study is providing an opportunity for collaboration to help address many of these issues.

The seven participating agencies in the Sacramento Region are seeking to build successful collaborative efforts to benefit all agencies and their customers. They include Carmichael Water District, Citrus Heights Water District, City of Folsom, Del Paso Manor Water District, Rio Linda/Elverta Community Water District, and San Juan Water District. They hired Raftelis to perform reviews of each of their organizations, similar in scope to a Municipal Service Review (MSR), to understand performance levels and identify opportunities for improvement through potential collaborative efforts ranging from joint contracting, sharing resources, and full reorganization between one or more agencies following a LAFCo process. The Sacramento Collaboration/Integration Study is identifying and nurturing mutually beneficial opportunities that can lead to:

  • Cost savings for customers
  • Leveraging of economies of scale
  • Beneficial integration of resources
  • Improved services
  • More efficient use of staff, equipment, and capital resources.

Sacramento Suburban Water District (SSWD) and San Juan Water District (SJWD), two of the participating entities, have already identified opportunities to improve collaboration and potentially merge operations into one consolidated district following a LAFCo process. However, other providers in the region are involved to ensure that their issues and concerns are addressed. They also seek to reduce and avoid costs, stimulate innovation, and improve efficiency, quality of service, and customer satisfaction. These are all drivers for considering sharing services and partnering.

Water management has become the most important aspect of regional planning in California. Working together maximizes opportunities for success. Operationally, the participating agencies look to find collective management options that will result in improved organization and long-term cost savings. These entities also seek to improve their legislative and regulatory advocacy actions by expanding their representative base with a diverse array of constituents. Finally, some of the agencies are participating to better protect and manage water resources as those resources are shared among regional agencies. Taken together, all the participating agencies are looking to further protect and better manage their water assets, and a subset of these agencies are looking for further operational collaboration for better administrative management.

Raftelis is working closely with the participating agencies to identify, analyze and help foster collaborations of all types, including full consolidation of one or more entities. Collaboration can occur in many forms. Raftelis is helping through the following activities:

  • Conducting reviews of each organization, following a format similar to the MSR
  • Benchmarking and programs comparisons across entities
  • Identifying and studying collaboration opportunities
  • Building financial models to evaluate different delivery approaches and financial implications, including potential rate impacts
  • Reviewing legislation, policies, and standard operating procedures (SOP) facilitate better resource sharing across entities
  • Stakeholder engagement and communication
  • Preparing agencies that desire reorganization through reorganization for a LAFCo process