March 18 – Deadline to comment on USBR long-term water transfers
March 21 – DSC board meeting, 110 W Fremont St, Stockton, 9:00 am
March 21 – Smith Canal Appeal vote, 110 Fremont St, Stockton, 10:00 am
March 21 – DPC board meeting, Courtland, 5:30 pm
April 10 –NDWA board meeting,Walnut Grove
WaterFix Oversight Legislation - Senator Bill Dodd (D-Vacaville) and Delta Caucus members introduced SB 204 requiring legislative oversight ofWaterFix construction contracts before approval of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA). The first legislative hearing on the bill will be in the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee at 9:30 am on Tuesday, March 12 in Room 112 at the State Capitol.
Congress Approves Delta National Heritage Area - Both houses of Congress approved legislation introduced by Rep. Garamendi and Senators Feinstein and Harris to establish a Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta National Heritage Area identifying the boundaries and designating the Delta Protection Commission as the Management entity tasked with developing a Management Plan which will quality the NHA to receive $10 million in federal funding over 15 years to promote the history, culture, and economy of the region.
Governor Appointments - Governor Newsom announced appointment of Wade Crowfoot as the new Secretary of Natural Resources. Crowfoot previously worked for Newsom when he was Mayor of San Francisco and has worked in the Brown Administration, for the Environmental Defense Fund and the Water Foundation.
Congressional Water Deal Announced
Governor Brown announced support for provisions inserted into the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) legislation related to voluntary agreements negotiated between U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy for the Bay-Delta Plan. Protesters outside Senator Feinstein’s office expressed their opposition . The Congressional Research Service released a report on provisions in the WIIN legislation that pertain to the Central Valley Project. Assemblyman Jim Frazier, co-chair of the Delta Caucus, issued a statement claiming the provisions harmful to the water quality and economy of the Delta region.
State Audit of WaterFix Project Released - Pursuant to a 2016 request from State Legislators, the California State Auditor released a report in October 2017 exposing deficiencies in WaterFix project program management and describing significant cost increases and delays.
New Agreement on Operation of SWP/CVP Signed - DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signed a new amended version of the Coordinated Operations Agreement (COA) for the State Water Project and Central Valley Project originally adopted in 1986. At the February NDWA board meeting, MBK Engineers gave a presentation explaining the changes agreed to by DWR and USBR.
Water Board Developing Water Rights Enforcement Policy - Pursuant to recent legislative directive (Water Code Section 1825), the State Water Resources Control Board has initiated scoping process for development of regulations to govern the enforcement of the terms and conditions of water rights permits, licenses, certifications, and registrations to appropriate water, to enforce state board orders, and to prevent the unlawful diversion of water. On a related note, a video of January workshop provides information on water diversion measurement requirements.
Water Board Adopts New Flow Standards for San Joaquin River
At its December 12th meeting the State Water Resources Control Board approved a resolution adopting amendments to the Bay-Delta Plan update that establish new flow standards for the San Joaquin River and tributaries, including CEQA Overriding Considerations and Monitoring Program. DWR and the CA Department of Fish and Wildife made presentation to the water board regarding their efforts to facilitate voluntary agreements with stakeholder on improving flows for fisheries consistent with the State’s Water Action Plan. Negotiations for voluntary settlement agreements to replace the flow standards will continue, but some agencies have threatened to file lawsuits.
New Delta Pact Between State and Federal Agencies
In mid-December, DWR and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced execution of new agreements governing the coordinated operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP). They are intended to resolve conflicts over amendments to the Bay-Delta Water Quality Control Plan (D-1641) and to revise water sharing formulas. These changes are an Addendum to the original Coordinated Operating Agreement (COA) executed in 1986 and authorized by Congress, commonly referred to as the “historic” Delta Accordintended to ensure Southern California urban water supplies during drought and clear the way for increased water shipments from the north, while guaranteeing more outflow to the San Francisco Bay to please environmental organizations. They redefine the role the federal CVP has in providing water to protect the Delta water quality when river levels are the lowest during the summer and fall months. Another agreement formalizes the cost-sharing formula for projects needed to comply with Endangered Species Act responsibilities (BiOps) for the joint operation of CVP and SWP, and new facilities such as WaterFix intakes and tunnels. An additional “No Harm Agreement” revealed in public records act request has also been negotiated in regards to the WaterFix Project with a companion “Letter of Dismissal” for protests of WaterFix petition to be dropped. The City of Stockton and San Joaquin County criticized these backroom negotiations to keep the WaterFix twin tunnels megaproject moving forward.
DWR Retreats on WaterFix Consistency Appeals
After DSC staff report finding that insufficient evidence provided to support DWR's consistency determinations and presentations by appellants at a mid-November workshop, DSC Chair Randy Fiorini agreed consistency determination was premature and recommended DWR withdraw the certification for revision. On December 7th, Director Nemeth sent a letter withdrawing the certification of the WaterFix project. The DSC Executive Director subsequently dismissed the nine appeals and lifted the ex parte restrictions, which allows DWR to have private discussions with Council members and staff on how to revise the project to be consistent with the Delta Plan before resubmitting certification.
Validation of SWP Contract Extensions Filed
DWR filed complaint in court for validation of new State Water Project contracts extending water supply agreements with 29 water district through 2085, which will allow the state to sell revenue bonds to finance the WaterFix twin tunnels project.
McCormack and Staten Islands Ownership Transferring to DWR - DWR sent a letter of intent on June 20, 2018 to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to expedite the transfer of fee ownership of McCormack Williamson Tract and Staten Island from TNC to DWR. According to DWR initial funding has been identified and permits are almost complete. Pursuant to a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the DPC sent a letter requesting more information on the land transfer.
Senior Water Rights Validated by Court - Senior water rights strengthened by a Santa Clara County Superior Court ruling that the State Water Resources Control Board does NOT have jurisdiction to enforce priority of water rights between pre-1914 and riparian water rights when issuing curtailment enforcement action to water users during drought conditions. The case was in response to unlawful curtailment notices and a $5 million fine issued by the SWRCB against the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) in 2015 and 2016. There are two remaining actions for the court to render decisions: 1) whether the SWRCB's enforcement action was a "taking" under the Constitution; and 2) reimbursement of BBID's legal costs associated with defending against SWRCB enforcement actions.
Water Rights Permits and Change Petitions Explained - The chief of the permitting section for the Division of Water Rights gave a presentation to the CA Water Commission describing the complex steps and timelines involved in processing applications associated with the SWRCB's authority over post-1914 water rights.
Bureau May Start Charging for Conveyance - A report by the the U.S. Inspector General finds that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation may be able to collect millions of dollars for the movement of transfer and non-project water through their conveyance infrastructure and use the revenues to pay off the original cost of constructing the CVP.
Trump Administration Propose Increasing Delta Exports - Pursuant to President Trump's directive, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has issued Notice of Intent for preparation of environmental document to authorize maximizing the amount of water exported from the Delta by the Central Valley Project (CVP) pumps.
Delta Plan Declared Invalid - Judge's clarification ruling on June 24, 2016 declares the entire Delta Plan approved by the Delta Stewardship Council in 2013, and associated EIR, are invalid and must be shelved until revisions are made in accordance with Delta Reform Act statutes to include quantifiable (numeric) targets for certain components, such as reducing reliance on the Delta. DSC's initial declaration of victory in May was therefore premature, and Restore the Delta's claim that original court ruling was a "bullet to the heart" was more accurate. Now DSC must go back to the drawing board to re-draft the plan and EIR.
NORTH DELTA WATER AGENCY
Melinda Terry, Manager
The California Legislature formed the North Delta Water Agency in 1973. By law, the Agency has two general purposes:
1) Protect the North Delta's water supply against saltwater intrusion; and 2) Assure a dependable supply of water for North Delta landowners.