BREAKING NEWS: California Water Authorities Sue U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The following is a joint statement by Jason Peltier, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority and Tom Birmingham, general manager of the Westlands Water District on today’s filing of a lawsuit to compel the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation to reassess its Endangered Species Act (ESA)-related actions.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Fails to Consider the Environmental Impacts of Biological Opinions Which Have Been Devastating Communities

FRESNO, CA-TODAY the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) and Westlands Water District (WWD) filed a lawsuit in federal court to compel the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (“Reclamation”) to examine the effectiveness of the existing measures intended to protect endangered species, the environmental impacts of those measures, and whether there are alternatives to those measures that would better protect both endangered fish species and California’s vital water supplies.

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority The existing measures, adopted in 2008 and 2009, are based on biological opinions issued under the Endangered Species Act.  The measures are responsible for the largest redistribution of Central Valley Project and State Water Project (water supplies away from urban and agricultural uses and have jeopardized the water supply for waterfowl and wildlife refuges.  Since 2008 and 2009, the farms, families, cities and wildlife that depend upon Central Valley Project and State Water Project water supplies have suffered substantial environmental and socio-economic harm from the reduced water deliveries caused by the existing measures, with little apparent benefit for fish.

Reclamation adopted the existing measures without any review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Federal courts, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, held this action violated NEPA, and Reclamation was ordered to perform environmental review.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote:

It is beyond dispute that Reclamation’s implementation of the Biological Opinions (BiOp) has important effects on human interaction with the natural environment.  We know that millions of people and vast areas of some of America’s most productive farmland will be impacted by Reclamation’s actions.  Those impacts were not the focus of the BiOp….  We recognize that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIS) will not alter Reclamation’s obligations under the ESA.  But the EIS may well inform Reclamation of the overall costs – including the human costs – of furthering the ESA.

The court-ordered review provided Reclamation a rare opportunity to reexamine the necessity for and the benefits of the existing measures, as well as the resulting impacts on the environment and water supplies, potential alternative measures, and new information and studies developed since 2008 and 2009.  It provided Reclamation an opportunity to make a new and better-informed choice.

Unfortunately, Reclamation neglected to take advantage of that opportunity. In November 2015 Reclamation completed an EIS that did not examine whether the measures are necessary or effective for protecting endangered fish populations.  Instead of analyzing the existing measures, Reclamation accepted them as the status quo.U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The EIS did not identify any mitigation for the water supply lost to these measures, despite current modeling that estimated how the existing measures would reduce the annual water delivery capabilities of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project. Loss was estimated to be over 1 million acre-feet on a long-term average and in spite of years of harm caused by implementing the measures.

Nor did the EIS try to identify alternatives that could lessen these impacts.  Reclamation attempted to minimize the impacts of lost surface water supply by unreasonably assuming the lost supply would be made up from increased pumping of already stressed groundwater supplies.  In its Record of Decision issued January 11, 2016 Reclamation announced that it would continue on with the existing measures, and provide no mitigation.

It is inexplicable that Reclamation would pass up the opportunity to reassess the existing measures and make a much more careful and robust analysis than what is found in the EIS.  NEPA requires no less.

The lawsuit filed today seeks to compel Reclamation to do the right thing and perform the analysis it should have.  If successful, the lawsuit may ultimately result in measures that actually help fish, and identify mitigation activities or alternatives that lessen or avoid water supply impacts that millions of Californians in the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project depend on.

Many of those affected reside in disadvantaged communities and are already struggling to pay for a water supply made scarce by layers of other, yet equally ill-advised bureaucratic regulations.  California’s water supply is too precious for Reclamation not to make the best informed decision it can.

David Gutierrez on Dams

David Gutierrez on Dams, Water Management and Economics

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

 

David Gutierrez, chief of Division of Safety of Dams and program manager for the Groundwater Sustainability Program within the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), talked with Patrick Cavanaugh, California Ag Today’s farm news director, regarding dams and the DWR in Sacramento.

California Ag Today: Please explain the differences between the DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).

Gutierrez: This is actually really important to understand. DWR and SWRCB have completely different functions, just generally. We have different functions with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) passed last year. The responsibilities of DWR lie with developing the regulations—the rulesand assisting the locals to be successful. SWRCB is the backstop; they are the ones who are actually going to manage a basin that is not being managed successfully. They are completely different; SWRCB is a Board and DWR is not a board; it’s a department.

California Ag Today: Do you think SWRCB should have been thinking about the things we are doing today 20 years ago?

Gutierrez: On the record, the citizens of California, everybody, should have been thinking about this more than 20 years ago. You can’t really blame one group; all of us should have been thinking about this 20 years ago. We usually don’t solve problems until we get into a crisis, and that is where we are.

Save-waterCalifornia Ag Today: Wasn’t it 40 years ago when the dams were denied or no longer supported by the population?

Gutierrez: So the Central Valley Project and SWRCB were both supported in the 20’s and 30’s, all the way up through the 70’s. After the 70’s, things did change and dams stopped getting built, but also most of the resources were already tapped at that point. So now you are seeing reservoirs being built off stream as most of the resources on stream have already been tapped into. So, there is a little more to it than people being for or against dams.

California Ag Today: Do you think the Temperance Flat and Sites Reservoirs will ever be built?

Gutierrez: It is an economic question, so I bet if you did an economic analysis, during certain times it would be economically feasible, and at other times it would not be. You have got to tie in the value of the water; if water becomes valuable, it is worth doing the project. If water is not valuable, you can’t afford the project.

Water Regulators Operate in Silos

State Senator Cannella Says Water Regulators Operate in Silos

By Laurie Greene Editor

California State Senator Anthony Cannella, (R-Ceres), who represents District 12, the Westside of the Central San Joaquin Valley from Modesto to Coalinga, knows how growers must feel about so much fresh water from recent rain and early snowmelt flowing out to the ocean instead of being stored for future use. Cannella, who is currently serving as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee said, “Obviously growers are out there; they have their life savings out there; they have been relying on water from the State Water Project or they have been relying on reservoirs; and the state has been taking more and more of their water due to ESA restrictions.”

“If farmers do not have surface water again this year,’ he continued, “they are going to pump from the groundwater. But state and federal officials do not see the connection that no surface water means more groundwater pumping. It would be much more sustainable if farmers could receive more surface water instead of having it flow out to the ocean.”

Cannella said, “Water regulators operate in silos. On one hand, they say groundwater has to be at an equilibrium; and, on the other hand, they say that they cannot pump much fresh water into reservoirs. They don’t combine the two; they don’t connect the two; and I think that is wrong.”

“If you are going to regulate or take away surface storage, there will be an impact on groundwater,” explained Cannella. “But the state does not operate that way, and that is why we are having the problem we are having,” he said.

WADE: LET THE WATER FLOW!

Let The Water Flow:

Mike Wade Urges Water Board To Let Reclamation Pay Back Borrowed Water

By Laurie Greene, California Ag Today Editor

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, discussed with California Ag Today, his article for the Coalition’s Blog, entitled, “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion.”

“A number of San Joaquin Valley farmers have been working the last couple of years to set aside emergency water supplies through conservation and water purchases on the open market,” began Wade. “That water is set aside in the San Luis Reservoir and currently being borrowed, if you will, by the Bureau of Reclamation to help meet their obligations and ultimately the temperature management plan for winter run Chinook salmon.”

Wade said the Bureau’s water obligations also include provisions for summer agriculture south of the Delta, as well as refuge management for numerous listed terrestrial species like the Giant Garter Snake.

Wade estimates the loaned water is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Lending farmers include those who own land on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento Valley rice farmers who fallowed land this year to make supplies available for transfers and Friant-area farmers seeking to augment a zero water allocation for the second year in a row.

“We believe the Bureau has an obligation to pay that water back this fall, and we’re urging the State Water Resources Control Board to let that payback happen.” In his article, Wade reported that Reclamation would pay back the water from supplies stored in Lake Shasta as soon as temperature goals for winter run Chinook salmon were met.

Regarding accountability, Wade said, “I believe the Bureau intends to pay it back, but we want the public to understand what’s happening. We want transparency so we can follow this obligation and make sure this fall, when water becomes available, the Bureau follows through to pay it back. People don’t forget.”

Built and operated jointly by the Bureau of Reclamation and the State of California, the San Luis Reservoir is at 44% capacity today, according to the California Department of Water Resources’ California Data Exchange Center, but the supply is already divided and allocated. Wade explained, “The water that is currently in San Luis Reservoir under the Bureau of Reclamation’s control is almost exclusively owned by growers who have conserved it or purchased it on the open market. The remainder belongs to the State Water Project and its users. So, there is little or no federally-owned water in San Luis at this time.”

Wade said, “There are a number of factors that contribute to the 4.5 – 4.9 billion dollar projected cost for San Joaquin Valley farmers. First is the actual value of the water that farmers have already set aside. Second is the monetary obligations farmers have contracted to pay Sacramento Valley rice growers for transferred water. The third component is the actual value of potential crop and orchard losses if that water isn’t paid back and farmers lose out on their ability to keep their farms going.”

Wade urged the State Water Resources Control Board, “to facilitate this complex and unprecedented collaboration” and allow Reclamation to release compensatory water as soon as possible.

Let the water flow!

 

Sources: Interview with Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; “State Water Resources Control Board Could Cost California’s Agricultural Economy $4.5 Billion,” by Mike Wade, California Farm Water Coalition; Bureau of Reclamation; California Department of Water Resources

Featured Image: San Luis Reservoir-Empty, California Farm Water Coalition

Message to Water Board: Water is Everyone’s Business

Volunteer from El Agua es Asunto de Todos (Water is Everyone’s Business) Gives Compelling Testimony at Water Board Workshop

by Laurie Greene, CalAgToday

TODAYMaría L. Gutiérrez, a volunteer with El Agua es Asunto de Todos, “Water is Everyone’s Business,”  gave the following testimony at California’s State Water Resources Control Board‘s (Water Board) Sacramento information-only Public Workshop regarding the Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) submitted by the California Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on January 23, 2015. Given the drought crisis, the DWR and USBR filed the TUCP with the SWRCB Division of Water Rights  to revise Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta restrictions devised to meet flow and water quality objectives established in the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Bay-Delta) Estuary. The TUCP requests the Water Board allow more water to be allocated to the Central Valley, for a period of 180 days, via DWR’s State Water Project (SWP) and USBR’s Central Valley Project (CVP) that includes flows from recent storms in the northern part of the state.

Gutiérrez provided the following testimony:

“El Agua es Asunto de Todos” is a campaign with two main goals – to raise awareness about the water shortage in California and the devastating economic impact it is having upon the Latino community, and second, to provide a platform for the Latino community to actively weigh in on the water issues.

California is entering its fourth straight dry year marking this state’s worst drought in 500 years. A drought like this is wrecking havoc on the lives of Latino families and the communities they live in. And when you impact the Latino community, you are looking at a domino effect with epic proportions. Because this affects restaurants, gas stations, truck drivers, gardeners, mom and pop shops, small business, schools, and food projects.

Our situation is even grimmer. We have seen 40% unemployment in Mendota, Huron and Firebaugh.

We are living in America. And, so I have to ask you, how is this happening? In my mind, I expect it to get even worse. We can conserve as much water as we can now, but if we don’t get a reliable water supply, whole communities will be torn apart.

El Agua Es Asunto De Todos
“Water is Everyone’s Business”

The unconscionable decision by Executive Director Tom Howard to deny additional pumping and water supply to our Central Valley communities is outrageous and immoral. His decision is a slap in the face to Latinos who live south of the Delta.

Let me tell you something about the Latino community. Latinos want to work; they don’t want a handout; and they don’t want to be standing in food lines. People tell us at every place we stop to dialogue, how they are losing their jobs, cars, and homes. Families are seeing their college dreams for their kids disappear. They tell us, all I want to do is work.

We are seeing more women and men standing in lines for food baskets. People are being forced to make tough choices – to put food on the table or buy medication. We are also seeing too many families lacking life’s basic necessities like water for drinking, cooking and showering because their wells have run dry.  Another year with zero percent water will bring even more hardship to these families.

I’ve met farmers who have told me that if they didn’t get water, they would have to lay off entire families of workers that have worked for them for generations. Farmers are of all races and nationalities. Most have started as farm workers, they bought the acreage and now they are farmers. They are part of what makes this nation great.

People are very angry. You need to understand the total impact a bad decision will have on many of our communities.

We need water now!

It is a civil right. 

It is a human right.

All of our communities request that the State Water Resources Control Board approve in full and allow State and Federal agencies to collectively manage the Central Valley Project and State Water Project on a real-time basis to provide water to our communities that are in dire need.

Our communities cannot afford any lesser operational flexibility during this unprecedented crisis.

As the Water Board meeting was for informational purposes only, no Board action was taken.

California Congressmembers Urge Water Board to Reverse Decision

California legislators in Washington, D.C., issued a bicameral, bipartisan letter TODAY requesting the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) reverse last week’s decision of its Executive Director, Thomas Howard, to deny the joint Central Valley and State Water Projects’ request to more equitably share limited fresh water outflow into the Pacific Ocean.

Separately, Congressional House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued the following explanation TODAY via Kyle Lombardi, his Legislative Director:

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources submitted a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) to the California State Water Resources Control Board (the State Board) on January 23rd to revise certain standards in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to allow increased pumping to send more water, including from recent storms in the northern part of the state, to the Valley given the drought  crisis.

Unfortunately, the initial decision by the State Board’s executive director last week rejected the important part of the TUCP that would have allowed increased pumping because of concerns about impacts to smelt and salmon.  Congressman McCarthy strongly feels this was the wrong decision, particularly given Federal and state fish agencies (i.e. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife) all supported the TUCP, including the provisions to allow increased pumping.

Accordingly, Representatives Kevin McCarthy, David G. Valadao, Devin Nunes, Ken Calvert, Jeff Denham, Jim Costa, and Senator Dianne Feinstein sent the letter below to State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus demanding that the Water Board reverse their executive director’s decision and approve the TUCP in full to allow increased pumping. Here are a few passages:

Our constituents have told us that some do not even have water for basic necessities like cooking, drinking, and showering, and that some are abandoning their homes and moving out of State.

Many Central Valley towns have unemployment rates that are triple or quadruple that of the state average of 7 percent due to significantly reduced employment in the agricultural sector.

When five agencies – including three tasked with protecting fish – have already assessed and concurred that the export adjustment would not cause harms beyond those allowed under the most stringent statutes and biological opinions, we believe the Executive Director should not have rejected the agencies’ shared assessment and denied the export adjustment in the TUCP without a compelling rationale for taking such an extraordinary action.

We find the Executive Director’s reasons for denial unpersuasive and unsupported by the facts that have been carefully evaluated by five State and Federal agencies.

McCarthy encourages constituents to express similar support for the TUCP and increased pumping levels by contacting the Water Board via:

-Phone: 916-341-5616

-Email:  info@waterboards.ca.gov

-In person: Public Water Board Workshop at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 18, 2015, in the Byron Sher Auditorium Joe Serna, Jr.-Cal/EPA Building, 1001 I Street, Second Floor, in Sacramento, CA.

For more information, email contact Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at http://www.kevinmccarthy.house.gov/.Drought Congressional Ltr to SWRCB re TUCP 021115_Page_1 Drought Congressional Ltr to SWRCB re TUCP 021115_Page_2 Drought Congressional Ltr to SWRCB re TUCP 021115_Page_3 Drought Congressional Ltr to SWRCB re TUCP 021115_Page_4 Drought Congressional Ltr to SWRCB re TUCP 021115_Page_5 Drought Congressional Ltr to SWRCB re TUCP 021115_Page_6

Senate Drought Bill Passes, Westlands Expresses Appreciation

This evening, the United States Senate passed, by unanimous consent, the Emergency Drought Relief Act, a bill to provide federal and state water agencies with additional flexibility to deliver water where it is most needed during California’s historic drought. The legislation, sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.), Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.), must now be reconciled with a separate bill passed by the House of Representatives.Dianne_Feinstein_official_Senate_photo_2

“Getting this bill passed was a true team effort.” Senator Feinstein credited the individuals above and added,  “Senator Murkowski, ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, displayed true bipartisanship in working across the aisle to address this disaster.”

Other cosponsors of the drought bill include Senators Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Senator Feinstein commented, “The drought in California is devastating and shows no signs of letting up. Snowpack is at 6 percent of its normal level and the state’s largest reservoirs are at or below half capacity. Congress must take immediate action to help alleviate the suffering of farmers, workers, businesses and communities throughout the state.”

Westlands Water District Round LogoWestlands Water District General Manager Thomas Birmingham issued the following statement on the drought bill passage:

“Passage of this legislation by the Senate marks an important milestone in the effort by members of California’s congressional delegation from both sides of the aisle to provide some relief from the disastrous human and economic impacts of drought and restrictions imposed on operations of the Central Valley Project and State Water Project under the Endangered Species Act and other federal regulations.

The fact that this bill passed by unanimous consent is a testament to the hard work of Senator Feinstein, with support from Senator Boxer and members of the House of Representatives, to explain to senators from other states the urgent need for and the importance of this legislation to the people of California.”

“Westlands Water District expresses its great appreciation for the hard work of Senator Feinstein and her colleagues in obtaining passage of this legislation. We look forward to working with Senator Feinstein and Members of the House in their efforts to reconcile this legislation with legislation that has already passed in the House.

It is Westlands’ hope that this process can begin quickly, and we are confident that Senator Feinstein and her colleagues in the House will be able to identify common sense solutions that will restore water supplies, while providing reasonable protections for fish.

The tens-of-thousands of people who otherwise will be unemployed and the welfare of people around the state depend on a meaningful compromise being reached quickly.”

 

Photo Credit: Westlands Water District Ranch on loopnet.com

 

JUST IN: UC Davis’ Preliminary Findings on Drought Impact in Central Valley

Source Office of Public Affairs

Photo Source-Aquafornia

California’s drought impact will be a severe blow to Central Valley irrigated agriculture and farm communities this year and could cost the industry $1.7 billion and cause more than 14,500 workers to lose their jobs, according to preliminary results of a new study by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences.

Researchers estimated that Central Valley irrigators would receive only two-thirds of their normal river water deliveries this year because of the drought.

The preliminary analysis represents the first socio-economic forecast of this year’s drought, said lead author Richard Howitt, a UC Davis professor emeritus of agricultural and resource economics.

“We wanted to provide a foundation for state agricultural and water policymakers to understand the drought impact on farmers and farm communities,” Howitt said.

The Central Valley is the richest food-producing region in the world. Much of the nation’s fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables are grown on the region’s 7 million acres of irrigated farmland.

The center plans to release a more comprehensive report of the drought’s economic impact on the state’s irrigated agriculture this summer.

The analysis was done at the request of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, which co-funded the research, along with the University of California.

“These estimates will help the state better understand the economic impacts of the drought, ” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The research confirms where emergency drought assistance will be needed most, and efforts are already underway.”

The UC Davis researchers used computer models and the latest estimates of State Water Project, the federal Central Valley Project and local water deliveries, plus groundwater pumping capacities to forecast the economic effects of this year’s drought.

The analysis predicted several severe impacts for the current growing season, including:

▪Reduced surface water deliveries of 6.5 million acre-feet of water, or 32.5 percent of normal water use by Central Valley growers. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre of land in a foot of water, or enough water for about two California households for a year.

▪ Fallowing of an additional 410,000 acres, representing 6 percent of irrigated cropland in the Central Valley.

▪ The loss of an estimated 14,500 seasonal and full-time jobs. About 6,400 of these jobs are directly involved in crop production.

▪ A total cost of $1.7 billion to the Central Valley’s irrigated farm industry this year, including about $450 million in additional costs of groundwater pumping.

▪ About 60 percent of the economic losses will occur in the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare Lake Basin.

Growers are expected to replace much of the loss in project water deliveries with groundwater, California’s largest source of water storage during drought years, said co-author Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences and a UC Davis professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“Without access to groundwater, this year’s drought would be truly devastating to farms and cities throughout California,” Lund said.

The additional pumping will cost an estimated $450 million and still leave a shortage of 1.5 million acre-feet of irrigation water, about 7.5 percent of normal irrigation water use in the Central Valley, according to the forecast.

While the current drought is expected to impose major hardships on many farmers, small communities and the environment, it should not threaten California’s overall economy, Lund said.

Agriculture today accounts for less than 3 percent of the state’s $1.9 trillion a year gross domestic product.Other authors on the report are UC Davis agricultural economist Josue Medellin-Azuara and Duncan MacEwan of the ERA Economic consulting firm in Davis.

Storms Allow Temporary Easing of Delta Pumping Restrictions

Source: Pamela Martineau; Association of California Water Agencies 

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) approved a temporary easing of pumping restrictions in the Delta on April 1 which will increase water exports from the estuary by as much as 10,000 acre-feet a day over the next week or two.

Officials from NMFS announced the temporary adjustment of the regulation April 1 during a conference call with reporters. Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), who also was on the call, said the easing of the seasonal pumping restrictions  won’t jeopardize protected salmonoid and is “consistent with the federal Endangered Species Act.”

“The adjustment will remain in effect as long as the rivers carrying stormwater into the Delta continue to run relatively high,” said Cowin.  “We expect that to last for at least a week and we’ll see how long those inflows are sustained.”

The temporary change is allowable in part because more water is moving through the system due to recent storms. The adjustment increases pumping levels from about 1500 cfs to 6000 cfs a day over the next few days.

DWR has set its initial water allocation estimate from the State Water Project at zero percent this year. It is unclear whether that estimate will change. California remains mired in drought despite the recent spate of storms.

On April 1, manual snowpack readings in the Sierra revealed a statewide snowpack water content at just 32% of normal for that date.

California Water Alliance: SWRCB Water

SUMMARY

California State Water Resources Control Board

Water Rights Prioritization Proposal

March 2014

SUMMARY

California State Water Resources Control Board (“SWRCB”), in response to a Temporary Urgency Change Petition filed by the CVP and SWP operators, issued an order that had the effect of undermining water rights and contracts, regardless of historic priority, under SWCRB control for “health & safety” purposes. The current proposal would cause State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) agricultural surface water deliveries to cease until 2015. Areas in need of “health & safety” water for the next year are undefined and not one evidentiary hearing has occurred.

Further, an official SWRCB decision was scheduled for March 12, 2014. A formal request for a delay of decision until March 21, 2014 was submitted by Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer, Congressman Garamendi, and Congressman Costa on March 5, 2014. SWRCB’s response was received on March 10, 2014, but with no clarity as to when they will implement further orders or hold hearings.

STATE WATER RESOURCE CONTROL BOARD

The State Water Board’s mission is to preserve, enhance and restore the quality of California’s water resources, and ensure their proper allocation and efficient use for the benefit of present and future generations. The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Boards) protect water quality and administers surface water rights.

  • Felecia Marcus; Chair – Appointed in May 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Frances Spivy-Weber; Vice-Chair – Reappointed in March 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Steven Moore; Member – Appointed in May 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Tam M. Doduc; Member – Reappointed in March 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Dorene D’Adamo; Member – Appointed in March 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown
  • Tom Howard; Executive Director – Appointed in August 2010 by Gov. Arnold SchwarzeneggerNo Water Logo

 

AREA of IMPACT

  • Area of impact includes 3,750,000 irrigated acres.
  • State Water Project Service Area includes Greater Los Angeles Area, Greater San Diego Area, Greater San Francisco Area, Santa Clara Valley, Inland Empire, Central Coast, Sacramento Valley, and San Joaquin Valley.
  • Central Valley Project Service Area spans 400 miles from the Cascade Mountains near Redding to the Tehachapi Mountains near Los Angeles. CVP manages 9 million acre feet of water for California cities, businesses, farms, and wildlife refuges. Including 1 million households daily water needs, 1/3 California’s farmland, 11 power generating facilities, and over 420,000 acres of fish & wildlife refuge annually.
  • Impacted Counties: Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Fresno, Kern, Kings, San Joaquin, Merced, Madera, Stanislaus, Alameda, Santa Clara, Tulare, Shasta, Trinity, Tehama, Colusa, Butte, Glenn, Sutter, Yuba, Yolo, Sacramento, Mariposa.

 

PROJECTED ECONOMIC IMPACTS

  • 40-80% unemployment in impacted SWP & CVP service areas.
  • 700,000-800,000 acres of farmland fallowed. Equivalent of 1,100 square miles or the Greater Los Angeles & San Diego areas combined.
  • Estimated $2.5 billion direct loss to California farm economy.
  • Estimated additional $5 billion loss to state economy from reduced related economic activity. Related industries include, but are not limited to, processing, transportation, wholesale, retail, cargo shipping via ports of Oakland, Stockton, Los Angeles, & Long Beach.
  • Increased consumer level food and milk prices estimated at $10 – $15 per trip to the market, and 10% – 15% increase in fruit, vegetables, beef and poultry prices in the short-term.
  • Increased utility costs, including energy & water. Projections based on 2007-2009 drought data where consumers paid $1.7 billion more in energy bills.

 

ECOLOGICAL IMPACT

  • Habitat for migratory waterfowl and shorebirds will be reduced by up to 550,000 acres.
  • Water for refuges are expected to be reduced or eliminated impacting up to 230 species of wildlife.
  • Depleted aquifers due to over reliance on groundwater, and inability to annually recharge aquifers with surface water.

 

LEGAL IMPACT

  • Water rights within impacted SWP & CVP service areas, including historic pre-1914, are being undermined, fundamentally changing California state law.
  • Reassessment of all property values with effected water rights, changing all tax assessment & revenues in all impacted counties.  Estimated reduction of property values, on average, by approximately 50%.

 

SOURCES

http://www.news10.net/story/news/local/california/2014/02/22/drought-will-impact-food-prices/5723079/

http://www.nbcnews.com/video/nightly-news/54502245#54502245

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-h-gleick/the-costs-of-californias_b_4747043.html

http://m.westernfarmpress.com/markets/average-california-farm-real-estate-value-7200-acre