Westlands Could Get Permanent Federal Water

Huge Water Contract for Westlands

From Families Protecting the Valley

www.FamiliesProtectingTheValley.com

 

According to the L.A. Times, the “Westlands Water District, a sprawling San Joaquin Valley farm district with ties to the Trump administration, is poised to get a permanent entitlement to a massive quantity of cheap federal irrigation supplies.”


How much are they supposed to get?  “1.15 million acre-feet of water.”


BUT…”There is no guarantee it will get that, since Westlands is low in the federal project’s pecking order and is among the first cut in times of shortage. Since 1990, it has received its full allotment in only four years.”  Conclusion:  Even with all the water available last year they only received 55%.


The article goes on to say “long-term control would also allow Westlands to make lucrative water sales to thirsty cities and other agricultural agencies”…Conclusion:  BUT, “To date Westlands hasn’t sold any water outside of its district. We don’t sell the water for a handsome profit.”


Why were they able to make the deal?  “Westlands asked for the new agreement under provisions of the 2016 WIIN Act, which opened the door for all reclamation contractors across the West to convert their water service contracts to permanent contracts if they repaid what they still owe federal taxpayers for construction of a federal water project.”  Conclusion:  So, they followed the law. 

So, how much do they still owe?  “In a letter to Westlands, the reclamation bureau last year estimated that the district owed the government $320.5 million as of June 2018.”


BUT, “In 2015 Westlands struck a settlement over drainage services that courts had ruled the federal government was legally obligated to provide…Under the settlement, Westlands agreed to assume drainage responsibility, said it would permanently retire 100,000 acres of badly drained land and would also accept a 25% cut to its water contract.”

SO, “In return, the government agreed to forgive Westlands’ construction debt — then roughly $350 million — and give the district a permanent contract for the reduced delivery amount.”  


Conclusion:  If you follow the story you can see the federal government had some obligations with regard to drainage, and made a deal for Westlands to assume the responsibility in exchange for the water contract.

  
The headline – Feds set to lock in huge water contract for well-connected Westlands Water District – would have you believe Westlands is getting something because of their powerful connections.  Conclusion:  It looks like they just followed the law and made a deal.

2019-11-14T07:37:36-08:00November 14th, 2019|

New Water Year Brings Surplus!

Surplus for New Water Year Will Help Farmers in 2020

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The Oct. 1 new water year, has brought the state a surplus— with statewide reservoir storage 128% of average.

“The wet 2017 was needed for our reservoirs to refill after an extended drought, and we’re hopeful that the upcoming water year will be generous,” said Mike Wade, Executive Director of the California Farm Water Coalition based in Sacramento.

The coalition educates consumers and others in the state about the importance of water for farms

“One of the things that we’re concerned about is allocations that have not seemed to keep up with the water supply, but we do understand there’s some question about environmental practices and enough water held over for stream flows, and those questions are something that we’ll have to contend with in the future,” said Wade.

With the carryover water that we have, we know that we’ll be in better shape going into this coming year than we have in some years in the past. But one of the things that are going to be helpful is if the Governor’s voluntary agreements get implemented regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s Bay-Delta Plan on the Tuolumne River. “We have more reliability and understanding about how water is going to be used from year to year and how much will be available for water supply reliability, as well as the important environmental projects that are going on around the state,” he said.

“In December 2018, when the state Water Board adopted their Unimpaired Flow Plan, there was a lot of concern that that was going to take a lot of water. It would have taken a million or 2 million acre-feet of water potentially out of the available water that we have from year to year,” said Wade.

“The voluntary agreements represent a generational change in how we manage water and environmental projects in the state. I will provide more local control, more input from water users, and the ability to build the kinds of projects and do the kinds of stream restoration that not only help restore our ecosystem, but it makes water supply more reliable for farms, homes, and businesses around the state,” he said.

 

2019-10-10T19:42:02-07:00October 14th, 2019|

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|

Congressman Harder: Veto SB1

Harder, California Members of Congress Statement on Planned Veto of SB1

WASHINGTON – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10), alongside Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representatives Jim Costa (CA-16), John Garamendi (CA-03), and TJ Cox, (CA-21) released the following statement in advance of Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB1. 

Josh Harder

Congressman Harder

 “While we support the objectives of SB1 – to protect clean air, drinking water, and our environment – the bill as written would jeopardize those very goals. It is critical that all Californians, especially those in our disadvantaged communities, have a reliable supply of clean, fresh drinking water, in addition to water for our environment and essential agriculture industry. We applaud the Governor’s leadership in vetoing this bill, and his efforts to solve California’s difficult water challenges with solutions that meet the needs of the 21st century.

“Working together with all water users provides the best hope for avoiding endless litigation on the management of California’s water supply. We know this through experience. Continuing the collaborative process put in motion by the Governor can result in improved habitats and protect fish and wildlife species, while also ensuring improved water supply reliability for our communities and family farms across California.”

 

2019-09-15T19:05:40-07:00September 16th, 2019|

Westlands Water District Helps Mendota Boys/Girls Club Stay Open

Westlands Board of Directors Contribute $36,000 To keep Club Open

Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

Recently, Westlands Water District Board of Directors voted unanimously to contribute $36,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Mendota. In a letter to Westlands’ Board, Kathryn Weakland of the Boys & Girls Club explained that without immediate funding the Club was at risk of closing,

“The shortfall is due to: increased operating costs, minimum wage increases and lack of sustainable funding sources.” Robert Silva, the Mayor of the City of Mendota, addressed the Board during the meeting expressing the importance of the Boys & Girls Club providing services to children in the City. Westlands Water District Board President Don Peracchi thanked Mayor Silva, City Manager Cristian Gonzales and the Boys & Girls Club of Mendota for allowing Westlands the opportunity to support the community.

Robert Silva, mayor of Mendota

Robert Silva, Mendota Mayor

The Boy & Girls Club of Mendota serves over 300 children, 95 percent of whom live in public housing near the club. All the children served have families residing well below poverty level, with an average income of $16,000 a year. Approximately 85 percent of the children served by the club have a parent or parents who work for farmers in Westlands. The Club provides a safe and welcoming space for children to learn, grow, play and are provided with nutritious meals daily.

Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, expressed the need to support the children who attend the Boys & Girls Club of Mendota, and he noted this was one means of mitigating socioeconomic impacts resulting from the District having retired approximately 40,000 acres of land near the City of Mendota. The Boys & Girls Club of Mendota is continuing to work diligently to establish relationships with potential donors and create a fundraiser, intended to ensure annual contributions keeping the Club operational.

“We are so thankful to Westlands Water District Board of Directors for this generous gift to keep the doors of the Mendota Club open to children who rely on the services, positive environment and diversified educational programs provided by the Club every day,” said BGCFC Kathryn Weakland, VP of Development. “We are still working to secure permanent funding, but this will help us seek the right opportunities in the meantime.”

2019-08-02T13:58:34-07:00August 2nd, 2019|
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