Modesto Irrigation District Files Legal Action Against State Water Board

MID Lawsuit Challenges CA Water Board On Misguided Plan

News Release from Modesto Irrigation District

Modesto Irrigation District (MID) filed a lawsuit on Jan. 10 against the California State Water Resources Control Board in response to their vote to approve Phase 1 of the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan.

MID’s lawsuit primarily challenges the State Water Board for failing to comply with both the United States and California Constitutions and the California Environmental Quality Act.

MID is among many parties—including our partners in the San Joaquin Tributaries Authority—who are pursuing independent legal action against the State Water Board.turlock irrigation canal

“The State Water Board misused its power to adopt a misguided and devastating plan,” said MID Board President Paul Campbell. “Given their current plan, we’re left with no choice but to pursue legal action. We must protect our more than 130-year old water rights, our water supplies, and the communities we serve.”

To balance the needs of our environment and customers, MID continues to advocate with our Tuolumne River partners for a durable solution composed of both flow and non-flow measures. Parallel to filing this lawsuit and consistent with the State Water Board’s direction, we’re working collaboratively to present a voluntary agreement for the State Water Board’s consideration in the coming months.

“Our voluntary agreement will ensure water security and reliability, includes environmental improvements, enhances fish populations far beyond what is projected in the state’s current plan and most importantly, guarantees timely implementation,” said MID Board Vice President John Mensinger. “Their plan threatens not only Central Valley ag and urban water users, but also the water supply of more than two million people living in the Bay Area.”

MID’s legal action reinforces our commitment to protect the environment, our customers, our region, and our water supply. For more information and to read MID’s full filing, visit www.mid.org.

CDFA AWARDS $5.8 MILLION TO ASSIST FARMERS WITH WATER EFFICIENCY AND ENHANCEMENT

Announced TODAY, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has awarded $5.8 million for 70 different projects in the second phase of a program to implement on-farm water irrigation systems with increased water efficiency and enhancement to reduce water and energy use, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The funding for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) is part of emergency drought Legislation (SB 103) signed in early 2014 by Governor Brown – authorizing CDFA to distribute as much as $10 million for eligible projects, in cooperation with the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board.

“These projects are essential to allow farmers to continue agricultural food production while at the same time providing ecosystem services that enhance the environment” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The result is the continuous improvement of our farming systems while at the same time providing multiple benefits, including water conservation and reduced GHG emissions.”

With this latest round of funding, a total of $9.1 million has been awarded for 155 different projects that have leveraged an additional $6.9 million in private cost-share dollars from grant recipients. The money comes from the state’s portion of Cap-and-Trade auction proceeds. The proceeds are deposited in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund and appropriated to state agencies.

The funding will reduce GHG emissions through projects that include modifications to improve water efficiency like drip and microsprinkler systems; energy-efficient water pumps; soil moisture sensors; and irrigation scheduling programs that apply water based on crop needs.

This program is the first of its kind at CDFA and applies to its authority under the Environmental Farming Act of 1995, which states that the department should oversee an Environmental Farming Program to provide incentives to farmers whose practices promote the well-being of ecosystem and air quality.

More information on the SWEEP program can be found by visiting  www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/sweep.

Will Mandatory Water Conservation Regulation be Effective?

By Laurie Greene, Editor

As the agricultural sector does its part in coping with curtailed water allocations and conserving what remains, an emergency regulation to increase conservation practices for all Californians went into effect TODAY. The new mandatory water conservation regulation targets outdoor urban water use. In some areas of the state, 50 percent or more of daily water use is for lawns and outdoor landscaping. This regulation establishes the minimum level of activity that residents, businesses and water suppliers must meet as the drought deepens and will be in effect for 270 days unless extended or repealed.

The regulation, adopted by the State Water Board July 15, and approved by the Office of Administrative Law July 28, mandates minimum actions to conserve water supplies both for this year and into 2015. For more information please visit the Conservation Regulation Portal.

In “The Public Eye: Voluntary water conservation not effective, data show,” Matt Weiser and Phillip Reese confirm, “only mandatory conservation measures, backed by a threat of fines, seem to prompt consumers to save.”

They reported state water agencies used five percent less water (January-May 2014) under mandatory rules alone than the previous three-year average. Agencies under voluntary conservation measures increased water usage four percent over the same timeframe.

Most significantly, water agencies working under mandatory water conservation regulations used fourteen percent less water in May 2014; whereas, other agencies increased usage slightly. And, seventy-five percent of water districts north of the Grapevine reduced usage compared to previous years, while only thirty percent of those south showed reductions.

Now let’s put this into perspective, the authors say that, for instance, Santa Ana residents, each, consume 108 gallons of water daily versus Sacramento residents, who use 218 gallons each. Likewise, San Francisco residents increased their water consumption in May, but they use forty-nine gallons daily, and of course,they do not have substantial landscaping to nourish.

With this regulation, all Californians are expected to stop: washing down driveways and sidewalks; watering of outdoor landscapes that cause excess runoff; using a hose to wash a motor vehicle, unless the hose is fitted with a shut-off nozzle, and using potable water in a fountain or decorative water feature, unless the water is recirculated. The regulation makes an exception for health and safety circumstances.

Larger water suppliers are required to activate their Water Shortage Contingency Plan to a level where outdoor irrigation restrictions are mandatory. In communities where no water shortage contingency plan exists, the regulation requires that water suppliers either limit outdoor irrigation to twice a week or implement other comparable conservation actions. Finally, large urban water suppliers must report water use on a monthly basis to track progress beginning Aug. 15.

Local agencies could ask courts to fine water users up to $500 a day for failure to implement the conservation requirements of the regulation, in addition to their existing authorities and processes.

In addition, Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent and prevent water waste and has signed a bill that bars state homeowners associations and common interest developments, such as condominiums, from fining residents for drought-respectful brown lawns. As yet, all other homeowners are not protected.

Visit SaveOurH2O.org to find out how everyone can do their part; Drought.CA.Gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought, and Saveourh2o.org/report-water-waste to report state agency water waste.

State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) Built on Collaborative Partnerships

CDFA continues to accept applications for the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program, or SWEEP. The deadline to apply is July 15, 2014.

The program is designed to provide financial assistance to agricultural operations for the implementation of water conservation measures that increase water efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately $10 million has been made available for SWEEP through emergency drought legislation (Senate Bill 103).

Although CDFA is leading this effort, the development, implementation and success of this program is dependent on collaborative efforts across state and federal agencies and with multiple partners.

CDFA is working closely with the State Water Board and Department of Water Resources on several aspects of the program, including program design and the collection of applications through the State Water Board’s electronic application program, the Financial Assistance Application Submittal Tool (FAAST).

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and the CDFA Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel have been valuable assets by providing guidance and feedback on many aspects of program design.

SWEEP requires a high level of technical expertise to review the applications. Irrigation experts from the Cal Poly Irrigation Training and Research Center, the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State and the University of California’s Cooperative Extension are partnering with CDFA to provide application technical review and recommendations for funding.

Verifying that projects are implemented at the farm level is a critical part of SWEEP. CDFA is partnering with the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, which regularly works with farmers and has conservation practice experience on irrigation systems, to verify the projects. 

SWEEP was implemented under the 1995 Environmental Farming Act, which recognizes that many farmers engage in practices that contribute to the well-being of ecosystems, air quality and wildlife, and states that CDFA shall provide incentives for those practices.

 

Governor’s Office Creates Drought Toolkit

Source: Matt Williams in Water News

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has created a new toolkit for local governments that provides guidance for coordinating on drought response and meeting the governor’s call for a 20% reduction in water use.

The document, available here, contains a list of regional contacts for the Office of Emergency Services, State Water Board and other water-related state agencies; templates for a proclamation declaring a local drought emergency or a resolution calling for voluntary water conservation; web links to drought information and resources for local governments; and water-related curricula for grades K-12.

CA

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is encouraging local governments to enact water use reduction plans at their facilities, share well data, pursue emergency drinking water grants if necessary, and update local ordinances to encourage water conservation.

The tools were designed with city and counties in mind, and are appropriate for use by water districts, officials said.

OPR has launched a Local Drought Clearinghouse to ensure local governments can quickly access the toolkit and other resources.

For more information, contact Debbie Davis, local drought liaison, at (916) 327-0068 or drought.clearinghouse@opr.ca.gov.

STATE WATER BOARD POSTS QUESTIONS, AGENDA FOR FEB. 18- 19 DROUGHT WORKSHOP

DROUGHT WORKSHOP AGENDA

Public Workshop Regarding the Temporary Urgency Change Petition for the

Central Valley and State Water Projects and

State Water Board Water Availability Actions

February 18 & 19, 2014

 

 

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) is holding a workshop to receive input on its drought-related activities affecting water rights holders.

 

The State Water Board will receive input on the January 31, 2014 State Water Board Order, modified on February 7, 2014, approving a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) filed by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) (collectively referred to as Petitioners) on January 29, 2014, regarding Delta water quality. The Board will also receive input related to Board drought-related water curtailment actions.

 

On February 26, the State Water Board will receive input on other actions that it is, or should be taking in response to continuing drought conditions. Input may address both water right and water quality related programs. See meeting information at the end of this posting.

 

These will be informational workshops only and no State Water Board action will be taken.

 

To assist workshop participants, below are some of the issues that the State Water Board is interested in receiving input on: 

 

Temporary Urgency Change Order (TUCP) (“Order) for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

 

Is there additional information the Board should consider related to the following findings?

 

1) Is there an urgent need for the changes? Are the changes necessary to maximize the beneficial use of water? Are there any modifications to the Order that should be made to maximize the beneficial use of water?

 

2) Will the changes injure any other lawful user of water?

 

3) Will the changes have an unreasonable effects on fish, wildlife, or other instream beneficial uses?

 

4) Are the changes in the public interest?

 

In particular, the State Water Board is interested in the following questions:

 

5) Are there any additional modifications that should be made to the Order?

 

6) Is there additional information not provided in the TUCP that would better inform the State Water Board’s findings?

 

7) What “triggers” (such as Delta salinity) would support opening the Delta Cross Channel Gates?

 

8) Should the method used to calculate Net Delta Outflow be adjusted during extended dry periods to better inform measures needed to protect Delta salinity (such as opening the Delta Cross Channel gates)? Specifically, should methods used to estimate in-Delta consumptive use during extended dry periods be adjusted?

 

9) How should the quantity of water conserved through changes authorized by the Order be calculated? How should the water be used?

 

10) Based on current reservoir storage and forecasted snowmelt, how much water will be available for Sacramento River temperature control, north of Delta settlement contractor deliveries, and carryover storage in the event of another dry year?

 

11) What other measures, such as barriers in the Delta, may be needed to protect health and safety and maximize the protection of beneficial uses?

 

Curtailment Notices

 

12) How should the Board prioritize its analysis of watersheds to determine whether to issue curtailment notices, and any subsequent enforcement activities?

 

13) How should the State Water Board determine, measure, and enforce Health and Safety limits for junior domestic water rights holders?

 

14) Are there other reasonable use exceptions that should be made in the application of the water rights priority system?

 

15) What minimum flows and reservoir levels are needed for health and safety throughout the summer months, and should this be factored into determinations on whether to curtail?

 

16) Should all water right holders in some watersheds be required to limit diversions to protect instream beneficial uses under the reasonable use and public trust doctrines? If so, how should the State Water Board determine what flows are necessary?

 

Agenda

 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 – 9:00 a.m.

 

  • Opening Remarks by State Water Board Chair and Board Members

 

  • Opening Remarks by Gordon Burns, Undersecretary for California Environmental Protection Agency, and Janelle Beland, Undersecretary for California Natural Resources Agency

 

  • State Water Board Staff Introduction (Staff Panel)

 

      • Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

 

      • Curtailment Notices

 

      • Other Requests for Transfers and Change Petitions (Russian River TUCP)

 

      • FERC Hydropower Project Flows

 

 

  • Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Presentation (Panel)

 

      • Statewide Hydrologic Conditions

 

      •  TUCP for the Central Valley Project and State Water Project

 

      • Transfers

 

  • Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Presentation (Panel)

 

      • Statewide Issues

 

      • TUCP for the Central Valley Project and State Water Projects

 

  • Real Time Drought Operations Team

 

  • Comments from the Public (parties with similar interests are encouraged to form panels)

 

 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 – 9:00 a.m.

 

  • Comments from the Public to be continued, if necessary

 

 

State Water Board Actions to Increase Water Conservation, Reuse, 

Recycling and other Drought Related Measures 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 – 9:00 a.m. 

Joe Serna Jr. – Cal/EPA Headquarters Building

Coastal Hearing Room

1001 I Street, Second Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814