I met today with one of the authors of the excellent California Council on Science and Technology 2014 Report on opportunities for technology to improve California's water management. A key recommendation:
Develop and implement an integrated water information management system for water supplies, uses, and quality including precipitation, runoff, and storage; for surface water, groundwater, and water use... Near-Term Actions: The Governor and key agencies should immediately take the lead to form a consortium of parties, including the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources as well as a broad coalition of water experts in academia, trade organizations and non-governmental organizations...
Also illuminating that the Delta Stewardship talks about a similar underlying need for improved data infrastructure:
"Primary goals for this document include sustainable support and advancement of California’s existing data systems, ensuring alignment with national technology trends, and laying the foundation for more consistent and robust access to data and metadata across organizational boundaries."
As well as the Western Governor's Association just released a letter calling for the following:
Coordinating information programs across multiple agencies, enhancing data networks (where appropriate) and facilitating better use of existing information; and
The fact that within the past year technical, policy and political groups with very different interests and agendas call for the same integrated water data infrastructure goes to show this is an idea whose time has come...
Update: the new AWE efficiency report on lessons learned from the Australia Millennium Drought highlights the importance of improved data, in particular the kind of customer level usage we're currently centralizing:
Update 2: the New York Times has jumped on this bandwagon as well.