Will Extra Water Storage Ever Become Reality?

Storage Reality!

Commentary from Families Protecting the Valley

Remember “The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014”, otherwise known as Prop1? At last month’s meeting of the California Water Commission, staff updated the commissioners on the status of the projects in the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP). Those are the storage projects in Prop 1. So, that was 2014, and it’s now 2020, and we’re still just talking, not building.

This process has gone on and on and on and on…So, here’s what’s happening. According to the California Water Commission in “2018, the Commission completed the application review process and made Maximum Conditional Eligibility Determinations or MCEDs for the eight projects under the Water Storage Investment Program.” Don’t know about you, but we love the bureaucratic lingo.

Since then the applicants have been moving forward with their projects to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of the WSIP. So the applicants “submit quarterly reports to “summarize their activities as they move towards the final award hearing.

Click here for an article from the Commission the staff sho has put together an estimated timeline for the final award hearings and construction and operation of the projects. If you click on the link you will see projected construction will start on one project this year, one next year, and 3 in 2022. BUT the Program Manager noted that in 2018 when the conditional funding awards initially were made, the Commission made 9 determinations for each project and one of those determinations was that the projects appeared feasible. Appeared feasible? That doesn’t sound too good.

Here’s another thing. By January, 2022 the projects must have have a 75% commitment of non-public benefit cost share. So, they’re still trying to get funding. That’s a big maybe. If they get the funding and complete all the other requirements, the applicant will come before the Commission for the final feasibility finding.  That’ll be December 2021. Here is something they ask you to keep in mind: “there is no deadline in statute for the final award hearing, and some projects could take years to complete these items. This is a long-term program.”

Used to be we’d pass a bond and build a dam. But now, this is how bureaucracy works. Good luck with whatever storage project you’re rooting for.

Temperance Flat Dam Brings Five Valley Counties Together

Key July 1 Signing Ceremony to Launch Temperance Flat Dam Process

by Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Mario Santoyo, executive director of the San Joaquin Water Infrastructure Authority (SJWIA), which represents the five-county joint powers of authority in the Central San Joaquin Valley, has announced an important event will launch the process needed for Temperance Flat Dam: the Temperance Flat Project Partnership Agreement Signing Ceremony outside Old Fresno County Courthouse overlooking Millerton Lake at 10 a.m. sharp on Friday, July 1, 2016.

USBR Water“This is a major event, a significant milestone in terms of the process to get Temperance Flat Dam built.” Santoyo said. “In essence, it is a partnership between the new joint powers of authority and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and, more specifically, their study team who worked on the technical studies and the feasibility reports for Temperance Flat.”

Merced, Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties are joining forces with leaders of cities, Tribes, and other agencies to begin this significant move towards building the Temperance Flat Dam. “Working together, we are going to put the application together and submit it to the California Water Commission for their consideration for funding through Proposition 1, Chapter 8,” Santoyo said.  “It’s a solid statement that needs a signature.”

“It’s a memorandum of understanding between the Bureau of Reclamation and the joint powers of authority,” he said, “that defines the scope of work. In essence, it’s full cooperation between their technical people and our joint powers of authority. Our people are tailoring the application to the state to optimize funding. Keep in mind, we’re talking big dollars here; we are not talking a million or a hundred million; we are talking a billion.”

Temperance Flat Dam would create nearly 1.3M acre-feet of new water storage, according to the SJWIA, 2.5 times the current capacity of Millerton Lake, and would be a part of the Federal Central Valley Project.

“Chapter 8, which is the storage chapter in Prop 1, has $2.7 billion in it,” Santoyo explained. “Projects that are submitted for funding are limited to up to 50% of the capital costs of their project. If we were to take Temperance Flat, for instance, that’s going to cost somewhere around $2.8 billion. The maximum you could ask from the state is $1.4 billion, but we don’t expect that because there is a lot of competition. There’s not enough dollars to go around. We’re hoping to shoot for somewhere around $1 billion.”

“I see [the July 1 event] as being historic,” Santoyo reflected, “because it is one of the most critical things to happen—to be able to build Temperance Flat, as well as a good opportunity to be at a place where history’s being made.”

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For more information, contact Mario Santoyo at 559-779-7595.

Featured image: Mario Santoyo, executive director of the San Joaquin Water Infrastructure Authority (SJWIA)

Mario Santoyo: Recent Temperance Flat Dam Memo is Misleading

Mario Santoyo: Recent Temperance Flat Dam Memo is Misleading

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

 

A recent memo to the City of Hanford, issued by the Townsend Public Affairs office in Washington D.C., stating the Temperance Flat Dam proposal may not be eligible to receive Proposition 1 funds, was deemed “misleading” according to Mario Santoyo, executive director of the 11-member board of the Joint Powers of Authority that oversees the proposed Temperance Flat Dam.

The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management’s 2014 decision to recommend designation of an 8 mile segment of the San Joaquin River (accompanied by a restricted-use river corridor extending 0.25 miles from the edge of the identified river segment) that falls in the footprint of Temperance Flat as a “National Wild and Scenic River,” has been a concern for awhile, noted Santoyo. “This memo is very misleading,” he said. “It has nothing to do with state bond funding”—California’s Proposition 1 (Prop 1), the legislatively-referred Water Bond (Assembly Bill 1471), passed by state voters on the November 4, 2014 ballot.

USBR Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir
Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir (Source: USBR, “Managing Water in the West: Alternative Water Management and Delivery,” 2014)

“But if the [recommended] designation stays in place,” Santoyo continued, “it would prevent us from building Temperance Flat with any funding. Whether with state funding, federal funding or Prop. 1 funding, it does not get builtperiod,” Santoyo said.

“To be eligible for Prop 1 funding, you have to have a feasibility report,” said Santoyo. “In other words, the federal government has to determine if the project is feasible under Prop. 1 money.” However, doing the feasibility report is part of doing the environmental paperwork. And, if at the end something changes on the conditions that were originally evaluated, then the project could be determined unfeasible.”

“But none of this has happened,” emphasized Santoyo, as the recommendation of this San Joaquin River segment to be designated National Wild and Scenic River has not yet been legislatively authorized. “We are perfectly aware of that hurdle. The designation is one of many things that we have to deal with.”

Santoyo said there would be a discussion this week with the regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation to talk about the Scenic River designation, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as well as technical partnership. “There are a series of things that need to happen to keep advancing the ball,” Santoyo said.

And even though the proposed Sites Reservoir is not subject to the Scenic River designation, it has not passed the feasibility study. “So it even has its challenges,” said Santoyo.

“All the projects have big challenges, but the question is: Do you keep moving forward regardless of how hard the issues are or do you just fold the first time you hit a bump? We are not folding; we are moving forward,” Santoyo said. “Either we shoot hard for currently available options or we shut down and do nothing. Why go through 10 years’ worth of effort to give us this opportunity and not take a shot?” he asked.

Editor’s Note:  Several calls to James Peterson, director of the Townsend Public Affairs federal office were not returned.