Raising Shasta Dam Hit’s Snag

Termination of Shasta Dam Raise CEQA Analysis

Westlands Water District terminated its preparation of an environmental impact report pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The District was preparing the environmental impact report to assess the effects of raising Shasta Dam, as proposed by the Bureau of Reclamation, including whether the Dam raise would adversely affect the free-flowing conditions of the McCloud River or its wild trout fishery.

Under federal law, if Reclamation determines to raise the Dam, local cost share partners would be responsible for at least half of the costs. The environmental impact report being prepared by the District would have provided the information necessary for the District to determine whether it could or would become a cost share partner. The District terminated the CEQA process because the Superior Court issued, at the request of the California Attorney General, a preliminary injunction that stopped the District from preparing the environmental review document until after the Court conducts a trial and issues a final decision in the case. The practical effect of the injunction is that the District would not likely be able to complete CEQA within the schedule Reclamation has for the project.

Tom Birmingham, the District’s general manager expressed his disappointment in this outcome: “no agency of the State has conducted a project-specific analysis of Reclamation’s proposal, to determine if enlargement of Shasta Dam would adversely affect aquatic resources – particularly those in the lower McCloud River. Westlands took the initiative to do that assessment, through the public process established by CEQA. It is unfortunate that, as a result of the actions of the Attorney General, Westlands was enjoined from completing that analysis.”  

2019-10-01T10:35:33-07:00October 1st, 2019|

Fight Against SB1

Contact your Assemblymember and State Senator today to ask them to oppose SB 1 (Atkins).  Despite amendments taken last night, SB 1 still threatens the water supply of our agricultural communities.

Amendments to SB 1 were made on September 10thto remove the language redefining “waste” and “waters of the state” in the Water Code and the requirement that the state adopt old federal Biological Opinion standards for species that are listed under the provisions of SB 1.

However, SB 1 attempts to apply the California Endangered Species Act to the federal operations of the Central Valley Project so that they can justify smaller water deliveries to farming and ranching communities.  California does not have the authority to mandate an action by the federal government.  Including this provision will likely lead to a collapse of negotiations to implement the Voluntary Settlement Agreements (VSA) which would ensure science and reason are part of the water management in this state.  This would leave the draconian unimpaired flow standards proposed by the State Water Board in place – a potential reduction of 40-60% of our annual water deliveries.

Act now to ask that SB 1 be voted down or made a 2-year bill. Contact here:  Fix SB 1 – Urgent Update!

2019-09-15T19:07:48-07:00September 16th, 2019|

Action Needed to Amend SB1

Urge your Representatives to AMEND SB 1

From California Citrus Mutual

This week the Assembly will consider Senate Bill 1 by Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins.

SB 1 proposes dangerous changes to how the state implements the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and will have devastating impacts on how water is managed in California.

The bill seeks to preserve environmental regulations against perceived rollbacks by the Trump Administration by empowering state agencies to immediately adopt the “baseline” standard in place before January 19, 2017 (the day before President Trump was inaugurated).

As currently written, SB 1 would lock in the existing biological opinions that determine how much water must flow out of the Delta to protect native fish species. This directly influences how much water is available to ALL water users south of the Delta.

The State and Federal agencies are currently in the process of updating the biological opinions, which will result in lower flows and more water for communities and agriculture. But, by locking in the existing biological opinions, SB 1 prohibits State from using the best available science to manage how water moves through the Delta.

Recent amendments do not go far enough to address the ESA provisions.

California Citrus Mutual and many other agricultural and business-sector groups have proposed constructive amendments to address these concerns.  The Pro Tem’s office, however, did not make substantive changes to the bill before it was passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Friday despite pressure from the Governor’s Office.

The Legislature will adjourn next Friday and it is imperative that SB 1 be amended THIS WEEK.

We are calling on our Assembly Members and Senators to urge the Senate Pro Tem to accept amendments to the ESA section.

Please click on the link below to send a letter to your representatives asking them to support amendments to the ESA section in SB 1.

California Citrus Mutual Action Center

2021-05-12T11:05:02-07:00September 4th, 2019|

SB1… Fix It or Nix It

California Water Alliance Opinion on SB1

By William Bourdeau, Chair, California Water Alliance

Water is life in California. Earlier this year, Sacramento politicians introduced Senate Bill 1 (SB1) which seeks to inject politics into California’s environmental regulations. SB1 will restrict water deliveries to the Central Valley and make California even more unaffordable. SB1 puts our communities in danger.

The California Water Alliance is a non-profit and non-partisan organization with a mission to increase the water supply for municipal, agricultural and environmental needs. We have been working with a digital public affairs company to raise awareness about this dangerous piece of legislation.

SB1 will be considered in the California Assembly Appropriations committee later this month. Time is Short.

William Bourdeau

As written, SB1 would freeze the existing federal biological opinions. Future permits would be subject to outdated science and ineffective federal baseline measures, thus permanently, constraining the coordinated operations of the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project.

SB1 will hurt disadvantaged communities throughout California with inconsistent state and federal regulations. This bill will compromise access to drinking water and limit economic prosperity. The California Water Alliance is leading the charge on SB1 by engaging voters and demanding that Sacramento politicians Fix or Nix SB1.

We need your help. Please consider donating to the California Water Alliance by clicking here.

Related Story

Califonia Chamber of Commerce: SB1 is A Job Killer

The California Chamber of Commerce today announced the second job killer of 2019 — SB 1 (Atkins; D-San Diego). The bill would give broad and sweeping discretion to state agencies to adopt rules and regulations that they determine are more stringent than federal rules and regulations adopted after January 19, 2017.

According to CalChamber, SB 1 (Atkins) is a job killer because the uncertainty created by the bill’s vague, ambiguous, and broad language and lack of due process in the rulemaking process would negatively impact the growth, employment, and investment decisions of almost every major California business. Due to costs and anticipated litigation associated with SB 1 (Atkins), companies doing business in the state would be hard pressed to hire more workers or expand California operations.

The proposal seeks to create an expedited administrative procedure not subject to the California Administrative Procedure Act when promulgating emergency rules pursuant to SB 1. Should the measure become law, it will likely instigate a wave of new litigation from interested parties wishing to compel a state agency to perform an act required by, or to review a state agency’s action for compliance with, any of the laws subject to SB 1. Businesses would inevitably be forced to intervene in these lawsuits in order to ensure that their interests are adequately represented.

2019-08-15T13:17:56-07:00August 13th, 2019|

SB 1 Is the Same Bad Legislation in a New Dress

SB 1: Bad legislation is bad legislation

Opinion From GVwire

By Bill McEwen

It doesn’t matter how many times you try to dress it up. Or bring it back with a new number.

SB 1 is not only redundant, anti-science, and a barrier to environmental progress, it would put a brake on California’s economy, too.

We’re talking about Senate Bill 1, which is officially titled the California Environmental, Public Health, and Workers Defense Act of 2019.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) says the bill is an “insurance policy against the exploitation of our natural resources and our people.”

Related Story: ‘Job Killer’ Bill Nears Final Vote. Who Supports, Who’s …

SB 1 Is Flawed Overreaction to Trump Administration

But, at its heart, SB 1 is a highly flawed overreaction to a Trump administration that many state Democratic leaders and their environmental allies have called “anti-science.”

If it passes the Legislature and is signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the bill would empower state agencies to adopt rules and regulations that they determine are more stringent than federal rules and regulations adopted after Jan. 19, 2017.Tuolumne River-Modesto Irrigation District

For the record: Donald Trump was sworn into office Jan. 20, 2017. That’s not a coincidence.

This bill has little to do with ensuring clean water and air, protecting wildlife, and standing up for workers. The real goal is to provide a legislative vehicle for Democratic lawmakers to polish their “Trump resistance” credentials ahead of the 2020 elections.

We are confident in saying that because many of California’s environmental and labor protections already are more stringent than their federal counterparts. Moreover, California has ample tools to fend off unwise decrees from the Trump administration.

This bill has little to do with ensuring clean water and air, protecting wildlife, and standing up for workers. The real goal is to provide a legislative vehicle for Democratic lawmakers to polish their “Trump resistance” credentials ahead of the 2020 elections.

SB 1 Rolls Back Scientific Advances

One big problem with SB 1 is that it would wipe out the gains the scientific community has made since 2017 in understanding what has contributed to the decline of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This new knowledge is opening the door to helping imperiled fished populations such as salmon while freeing water for cities and industries, including agriculture.

“Over the last 30 years, several fish species have continued to decline despite significant expenditures and diversion curtailments mandated by Endangered Species Act rulings,” writes Rick Gilmore, general manager of the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District spanning Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin counties.

“New procedures and agreements (negotiated by the Brown administration), which incorporate new species management science, are currently being incorporated and scrutinized by the federal and state fish agencies. These updated methods should be deployed and evaluated rather than stymied and derailed. The new science and better practices present the best available option for species recovery.”

And, although Atkins says revisions have allayed fears that voluntary environmental agreements praised statewide won’t be handcuffed by SB 1, the bill’s opponents rightfully continue to be skeptical of such claims.

Bill Is a ‘Job Killer’

SB 1 is not only redundant, anti-science, and a barrier to environmental progress, it would put the brakes on California’s economy, too.

“Due to costs and anticipated litigation associated with SB 1, companies doing business in the state would be hard-pressed to hire more workers or expand California operations,” says the California Chamber of Commerce, which calls the bill “a job killer.”

Earlier Version Died, So Should This One

Two years ago, then-state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León pushed SB 49, a bill nearly identical to SB 1. Just like Atkins’ bill, it passed the upper house. However, de León’s version nose-dived in the Assembly.

SB 1 deserves the same fate. It’s flawed legislation driven by a knee-jerk reaction to President Trump. And it’s bad for California — especially those inland regions, like the Valley, that Newsom has promised to help.

Newsom should weigh in immediately to fix SB 1’s substantial flaws. If it reaches his desk without those revisions, he should veto it.

https://gvwire.com/2019/07/24/editorial-sb-1-is-the-same-bad-legislation-in-a-new-dress/

2019-08-11T13:45:50-07:00August 11th, 2019|

Abnormal Weather, Temperatures, and Pests

A Year of Unusual Weather Affects Vegetable Crops

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

A year filled with abnormal weather is starting to show its effects on vegetable crops. Tom Turini of the University of California Cooperative Extension Fresno County, who is a plant commodity specialist, shared some of the early seasonal problems he has witnessed.

“We had unusual weather this year—a very cool, late spring—and with the rains we’ve had, we expected to see some issues that are unusual. We just didn’t see the incidence of those problems that we would have expected,” Turini said.

Turini added that levels of beet curly top are relatively low and tomato spotted wilt is densely populated in some areas. He also noted that the early appearance of the consperse stink bug seems to be having a measurable impact on crops, specifically on the west side of Fresno County.

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00July 25th, 2019|

Put Your Public Water Outreach Programs on Steroids

Water Storage Projects are Essential To Counter Inconsistent Wet Weather

By Stephen Baker, Operation Unite

How can the short memory of the public maintain the long-term commitments of water projects and conservation behaviors? On one hand, California’s recent extended drought demonstrated that the public water users could reduce their water use, but can it be maintained permanently?

And then there is water storage.

Water storage projects are essential to counter the inconsistent presence of natural yearly precipitation and sporadic wet winters, but is the public supporting projects that get the job done? Water shortage is imminent without an ability to treat, store and, ultimately, satisfy the demand of the 40 million Californians while, at the same time, maintaining a healthy environment. And without adequate water storage, we rely on groundwater aquifers. Unfortunately, this is also a bit of a sore spot. The public water users either feel that groundwater is theirs for the taking, or they consider groundwater as someone else’s problem. Either way, communities are fragmenting from misunderstanding, misconceptions and the politics of water.

Thanks to Climate change, these issues are each magnified. Climate change is now instigating our communities to adapt. Adaptation means that we have an infrastructure and public behavior that allow easy management when highly variable conditions occur.  What we need is buy-in from the public that is unwavering throughout the life of the project. It’s just not happening fast enough. It’s time to put your public water outreach program on steroids!

I know you can relate to these conditions because water purveyors, County Board of Supervisors, cities, GSAs, and Flood Control Districts face this each day with every project. Ask yourself: Are you building permanent public buy-in, or is it a fragmented and fleeting commitment? Conventional outreach methods have their successes, but it is hard to effectively engage from across the room. We need to get more personal.

It’s about relationship, and relationship is a two-way street. It is one thing to respond to the squeaky wheel and very much another to manage the entire machine in a manner that the machine operates successfully. Having the right relationship leaves your public knowing that you care and confident that you are considering an alternative that generates confidence. It gets even better. When a good relationship is built, we work better together, even when there are disagreements. Working together means you listen to understand. This is a major contributing factor needed in today’s diverse world, where building and maintaining a healthier community is critical. It even leads us to many other benefits that have nothing to do with water (e.g. homeless problem, fire safety, community economics, crime). Building relationships does take time, but if approached innovatively, it can be accomplished effectively and within a shortened period of time.

You currently engage in many public meetings, forums, private meetings, social media, conferences, and workshops on water projects. Each of these gatherings is an opportunity to build a relationship with specific emphasis on the quality of interaction. When done effectively, you will recognize that your public and you are coming together. Enhancing everyone’s ability to hear and be heard each will contribute to building healthy relationships. The vehicle for this to happen can be provided by new relationship-building tools.

So, if the strategy is about building a relationship, how is it actually developed? It’s about communication.

Many times, an opinion on communication strategy success is measured based on the number and type of events that are scheduled. Although this effort may satisfy regulatory or legal requirements, it misses the mark because the numbers of events independent of one another usually stall out in effectiveness, and you miss the opportunity to completely succeed. Let’s not forget the content of the event itself. This is where the steroids come in. Supplementing your current water outreach programs with some enhancement tools will increase public interactions and decrease pushback. Why lollygag reaching your success? Let’s get the job done.

We need communication tools that ramp up positive outcomes of your current efforts. Tools involve a mix of strategy and conduits of communication. When addressing strategy, plan a dynamic set of actions that are pre-assessed with knowledge of your public. Frequently revisit the pulse of your public through a variety of personal encounters and modify the strategy as needed. As we said earlier, we need to get more personal. There are new tools that effectively provide a community level of personal connection with a water project, and this is where the steroids come into view.

Communication is where the magic takes effect. Simultaneously connecting at varying scaled levels brings both the emotions and analytical understanding into focus with the meaning of your water projects. Accomplished effectively, this strategy of communication under the influence of the proverbial steroids develops a public that pushes a water project forward. The public will understand the value of water and the project’s relevance to their lives. At the end of the day, you feel heard, everyone is on the same page, and the project is completed on time and on budget. You even have money left over for the next project. Life doesn’t get better than that!

Stephen J. Baker is a Hydrogeologist and Founder of Operation Unite, a group that has developed communication tools for building mutually beneficial, engaged, and collaborative relations with the public and water projects. He can be contacted at stevebaker@operationunite.co or +1530-263-1007.

2019-07-22T17:16:54-07:00July 22nd, 2019|

Pesticide Air Monitoring Shows Low Numbers

2018 Air Monitoring Shows Most Pesticides Below Health Screening Levels

News Release

 The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released air monitoring results indicating that most of the pesticides monitored in the DPR air monitoring network in 2018 were found below levels that indicate a health concern.

However, data from a separate two-year study of the pesticide 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D), a known carcinogen, shows air concentrations in Parlier (Fresno County) will require further action.  1,3-D is used to fight pests that attack a wide range of crops, including almonds, grapes, strawberries, and sweet potatoes.

“Air quality is fundamental for all Californians, and the latest data from DPR’ s air monitoring network shows levels of agricultural pesticides in most communities that are well within our public health standards,” said Val Dolcini, DPR acting director. “In many cases, the amount of pesticide in the air was negligible, but our scientists will continue to use this data to help DPR develop plans to reduce the presence of 1,3-D in the future.”

In 2018, DPR, with assistance from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Santa Barbara County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, monitored air concentrations of 31 pesticides and 5 pesticide breakdown products in eight agricultural communities. The monitoring stations are in Shafter (Kern County), Santa Maria, Cuyama (Santa Barbara County), Watsonville (Santa Cruz County) and Chualar (Monterey County), Lindsay (Tulare County), Oxnard (Ventura County) and San Joaquin (Fresno County).

The air-monitoring network, which began in 2011, was established to help expand DPR’s knowledge of the potential long-term exposure and health risks from pesticides in the air. California is the only state that monitors air as part of its continuous evaluation of pesticides to ensure the protection of workers, public health, and the environment.

The 2018 air monitoring report shows that of the 36 pesticides and breakdown products measured at the monitoring sites, most did not exceed screening levels or regulatory targets.

Other highlights include:
  • 8 pesticides were not detected at all and
  • 17 pesticides were only detected at trace level.

In January 2018, however, the air monitoring results showed that the pesticide 1, 3-D had a 13-week average concentration in Shafter of 5.6 parts per billion (ppb), which is significantly above the short-term (13-week) screening level of 3.0 ppb. A screening level is a level set by DPR to determine if a more detailed evaluation is warranted to assess a potential health risk.

DPR, along with the Kern County ag commissioner, investigated this detection and determined that it largely arose from a single application of 1,3-D made during this 13-week period. While this reading was not high enough to indicate an immediate health threat, DPR is consulting with other state agencies on next steps to reduce the exposures to 1,3-dichloropropene.

 

List of communities in the Air Monitoring Network

communities in air monitoring 2018 table.JPG

 

In addition to the 2018 annual air monitoring results mentioned above, DPR conducted a two-year air monitoring study of 1,3-D in Parlier (Fresno County) and Delhi (Merced County) from 2016 to 2018. The measured air concentrations in Parlier also exceed DPR’s screening levels and indicate that more mitigation is needed to reduce the exposures of this pesticide.

 These findings will be discussed at the next Pesticide Registration and Evaluation Committee (PREC) on July 19. The meeting will be live webcast.

Read the full 2018 air monitoring report here 

2021-05-12T11:01:47-07:00July 18th, 2019|

Preparing for SGMA — The Time is Now

It’s Time to Manage Your Water Assets

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

It’s time for growers to start preparing for the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, otherwise known as SGMA, and groundwater consultant Chris Johnson is here to help.

Johnson, owner of Aegis Groundwater Consulting based out of Fresno, stressed the significance of farmers instrumenting their wells.

“It’s good for them to be able to manage them as assets, and then the data is important to defend themselves if they find they are being lumped in through SGMA and not being effectively represented,” he said.

Being misrepresented under SGMA can be a result of an “index well” data measurement. Index wells are a method of measuring water table levels in the area. However, their location might differ from where a farmer’s well is—meaning the data may not be indicative of the water the farmer is actually using.

Some growers might be concerned that metering their well may put them at risk of exceeding a pre-established limit, but according to Johnson, the meters provide enough data to prevent this from happening.

“The flow rate from the well not only tells you how it is behaving, but it also gives you another number to evaluate what the distribution and application systems are doing, so it’s a check that is available for them as well,” he said.

2019-07-11T15:56:37-07:00July 11th, 2019|

Friant Water Blueprint Focused on Counties South of Delta

Blueprint Will Help Deliver Message for More Water

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

An important blueprint for the success of farming in the Central Valley is being developed to present to California government officials. This blueprint outlines what must be done to get water to the eight counties south of the delta. The blueprint is a critical step to help keep farmers in business due to the pressure from the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Johnny Amaral is the Friant Water Authority, Chief of External Affairs. Amaral overseas Friant’s engagement with San Joaquin Valley farmers, businesses, and related industry groups regarding water policy and water supply matters as well as legislative lobbying and communications activities.water allocation

“I remember this isn’t just about farmers. This entire Central Valley depends on a functioning water system. Whether you are a farm owner, a farm worker, a city councilman or somebody who works at a milk plant or at a library, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “San Joaquin Valley is in this together, and it is an all or nothing situation. This is being labeled as a farmer-led effort, and it is misleading.”

“This is a very broad coalition of very unusual interests coming together to promote this,” Amaral said.

2019-07-01T14:46:27-07:00July 1st, 2019|
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