|NDWA Board Meetings|
Jan 10, 12, 18 - USACE virtual public meetings on Delta Conveyance Project Draft EIS
Jan 19 – SWRCB mtg, Bay-Delta Plan Update and VAs
Feb 8 – DPIIC Forum on Delta restoration, West Sacramento, 3:00-6:00 pm
Feb 14 – Deadline to comment on USACE Draft EIS for Delta Conveyance Project
Click on "Issues" link above for more "Drought Info and Resources"
NEW! Click Here to watch the entire Special Claims Process Briefing from August 3, 2022. Click here for DWR's Special Claims Procedure Instructions for the 2022 Drought Emergency. Click Herefor DWR's Special Claims Attachments. You can also file a claim online electronically using this link https://forms.office.com/g/0dFUZc0Vv5. All claims and written communications shall be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org or the address below.
Settlement Contracts and Project Exchanges Unit
Division of Operations and Maintenance
P.O. Box 942836
Alquist, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 94236-0001
NEW! Special Claims Compensation Payments in 2022 - The Drought Emergency provision (Article 4 (b)) in the NDWA 1981 Contract is in effect as of June 3, 2022 when all three of the criteria in subdivision (i) were met. Pursuant to subdivision (iv), the State (DWR) has established a Special Claims Process to compensate water users within the NDWA for loss of net income for each acre that is either: 1) planted to a more salt tolerant crop in the current year; 2) not planted to any crop due to drought emergency; or 3) which had a reduced yield due to drought emergency. A Special Board Meeting of the NDWA will be scheduled on August 3, 2022 at 1:00 p.m. to have DWR explain the claims process, eligibility, and application.
Delta Drought Incentive Pilot Program Announced - On January 19, 2022 the Delta Conservancy announced the establishment of a drought incentive program in partnership with DWR and the Delta Watermaster where the state will pay farmers willing to implement measures to reduce the consumptive use of water in their spring crops. The program will offer up to $900 per acre. In exchange, the landowner will agree to provide access on their property so the state can monitor and collect data on which measures are most effective in different parts of the Delta. To participate in this program, review the types of conservation measures listed in the Solicitation Summary and submit an Application Form to the Delta Conservancy.
Emergency Drought Regulations Adopted - At its January 2022 meeting, the State Water Resources Control Board took another step to address drought conditions by adopting emergency water use regulations that will take effect on January 14, 2022. The water board also provided a Frequently Asked Questions document. According to DWR snow survey conducted on December 30, 2021, the statewide snowpack is 160% for the average that day. However, DWR warns this may not be enough to completely fill reservoirs or end the drought.
Informational Briefing on Historical Drought Actions - On July 27, 2021 the NDWA hosted an informational briefing that reviewed prior droughts and the actions taken by the Agency and the State to protect water quality and availability in the Delta. A presentation by MBK provided a comparison of dry conditions in past years to current drought conditions. The Manager provided presentations on actions taken by the NDWA during prior droughts in the 1970s, 1990s, and 2014-15 and another on specific assurances and mitigation measures contained in a Memorandum of Permit between NDWA and DWR when a temporary drought barrier was installed in Sutter Slough.
Delta Cross-Channel Opened - The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation previously announced the Delta Cross-Channelgates in Walnut Grove shall remain closed in order to help maintain water quality standards during ongoing drought conditions, but began reopening on weekends in June and as of July 2, 2021 shall remain open until further notice, however are subject to close again on short notice if necessary to protect fisheries.
NDWA Informational Briefing on Drought - On April 27, 2021 the Agency held an Informational Drought Briefing to inform the public regarding latest drought conditions and to review the Emergency Drought provision (Article 4(b)) in the 1981 Contract. In addition to the presentation provided by Agency engineers, the public can also watch a RECORDING of the informational briefing. Worth noting is data showing the 2021 water year being forecasted to be the fourth driest for the Four River Index specified in the NDWA 1981 Contract's Emergency Drought provision, as well as Oroville Reservoir only filled to 42% of capacity. Recent aerial photos show how low water levels are in Oroville Reservoir in this second year of drought. Despite these dry conditions being described by some as dire, according to the SWP/CVP Drought Contingency Plan, the CVP/SWP water projects will be able to meet water quality criteria this year for both the NDWA Contract and D-1641 through coordinated water management without requesting Temporary Urgency Change Petitions (TUCPs) that would relieve them of meeting Bay-Delta water quality criteria specified in D-1641. However, DWR's expectation to be able meet both NDWA and D-1641 water quality criteria without TUCP water quality relaxations is based on an early February 1 forecast of water conditions, and is therefore subject to change as the state and federal water agencies update their water supply forecast in early May. Currently, only two of the three drought criteria in the NDWA 1981 Contract have been met, therefore the Emergency Drought provision requiring DWR to either provide an alternative water supply or establish a compensation claims process is NOT in effect at this time, but this too may eventually change as conditions worsen.
Resources for Drought Information - The Agency encourages water users within NDWA to periodically visit web pages on drought conditions hosted by State agencies for the latest information and updates: State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and Dept. of Water Resources (DWR). Additional resources recommended include: 1) DWR real-time water conditions database (CDEC); 2) SWP/CVP Drought Contingency Plan for March 1, 2021 thru September 30, 2021; 3) DWR 2021 Drought Brochure; 4) March 2021 DWR Report on 2012-2016 Drought; 5) 2020 DWR Report Comparing CA's Most Significant Droughts; and 6) February 2021 SWRCB Report summarizing drought response actions taken in the 2012-2016 drought. Click on "ISSUES" link at top of this page and then click on
Preliminary Water Shortage Notices Issued - On March 22, 2021 the State Water Resources Control Board sent Preliminary Notices to water rights holders to provide early warning of potential water shortages if dry conditions persist in California; urging them to reduce water usage and implement water conservation measures.
DELTA CONVEYANCE PROJECT
Delta Counties Provide Public Forum - Frustrated that DWR failed to hold in-person public meetings on the Draft EIR for the Delta tunnel project, the Delta Counties Coalition and Legislative Delta Caucus co-hosted a public meeting in Hood on December 6, 2022 to provide Delta residents the opportunity to provide comments on the adequacy of the environmental analysis and mitigation measures. More than 100 residents attended. A transcript of the public comments will be provided to the Department of Water Resources prior to the formal comment deadline of December 16th. On December 7th the Trinity County Board of Supervisors voted to oppose the Delta Conveyance Project and officially endorsed the letter opposing the tunnel that was adopted by the Trinity County Fish and Game Advisory Commission.
USACE Releases EIS on Delta Tunnel Project - In mid-December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a Notice announcing the release of the federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Delta Conveyance Project for public review and comment. The proposed action would require permission/authorization from the Corps to alter the Federal Project (levees) under Section 14 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (Section 408) (33 U.S.C. 408), to place structures and conduct work in or affecting navigable waters of the United States under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (33 U.S.C. 403), and to discharge fill material into waters of the United States under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. 1344). Three public meetings will be held virtually on January 10, 12, and 18th. The deadline to submit written comments on the proposed project is February 14, 2022.
DCP Public Comment Period Extended - When DWR released the Draft EIR for the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) in July, the deadline to submit written comments was October 27, 2022 with three online virtual hearings scheduled in September. On September 20th, DWR released a Change Sheet for the DCP Draft EIR and three days later announced extension of the public comment period to December 16, 2022.
DWR Amends 404 Permit for Delta Tunnel Project - On November 22, 2021, the Department of Water Resources submitted a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting to amend the 404 Permit for the Delta Conveyance Project to formally identify the “Bethany Alternative” as the preferred project that will be analyzed in the Draft EIR expected to be released in mid-2022.
Delta Conveyance Project Comments - April 17, 2020 was the deadline to submit scoping comments on Notice of Preparation for the new single tunnel Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). Comment letters were submitted by NDWA and many others.
Federal Legislation to Stop Delta Tunnel Introduced - Federal Congressional Members Garamendi, McNerney, and Harder introduced an amendment to prohibit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from issuing a Clean Water Act permit (Section 404) for the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP) and issued a joint statement urging Governor Newsom to abandon further development of the DCP.
Delta Week Declared by Legislature - A resolution by Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa), SCR 119, was approved by the State Legislature to annually declare the last week of September as Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Week.
Governor Releases Water Supply Plan - In response to the expectation that California under climate change is expected to lose 10% of its water supply by 2040, Governor Newsom released a new 19-page strategic plan for the state to adapt by storing more water, recycling more wastewater, and desalinating seawater and brackish groundwater.
Legislation Requiring Acceleration of Bay-Delta Plan Update Fails - AB 2639 (Quirk), proposed a December 31, 2023 deadline for the State Water Resources Control Board to complete the update of the Delta Water Quality Control Plan (D-1641 objectives) and would also be prohibited from issuing any new water rights after January 1, 2024 until the update is completed and the San Joaquin River tributary amendments were being implemented. AB 2639 failed passage at the end of May.
Funding for Drought Barriers, Delta Drought Response Plan, and Water Rights - Budget committees proposed providing $27 million in funding for the 2023 installation of two emergency drought barriers in the North Delta and $10 million to implement a Delta Drought Response Program next year and an additional $7.5 billion Water & Drought package to be spread over three years, which includes $1 billion for flood management and dam safety grants, and $1.5 billion to buy about 200,000 acre feet of senior water rights, mostly in Northern California.
Governor Releases the 2022-23 State Budget - Like last year, the proposed Fiscal Year 2022-23 State Budget focuses on investing in climate resiliency with a $5.2 billion expenditure. An additional $750 million investment is also proposed for water conservation, drought relief, protection of fish and wildlife, and groundwater sustainability. The Governor proposes "The California Blueprint" to tackle five issues in his new budget with fact sheets, including one on addressing the climate crisis. The LAO also released a report providing an overview of the Governor’s proposed State Budget.
Clean-Up Bill for Water Diversion Measurement Introduced - Senator Dodd (D-Napa) introduced SB 832 to amend the water diversion measurement statutes to allow alternative measurement methodologies such as remote satellite sensing instead of monitoring devices on each diversion pipe.
Congressional Request to Export Stormwater Flows - A delegation of Republican Congressmen sent a letter to President Biden and Governor Newsom requesting a state of emergency be declared that will allow more water to be exported from the Delta during storm events.
Oversight Hearing on Water Ops Requested - Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford) requested a formal oversight hearing on the Biden Administration’s effort to replace the biological opinions guiding the coordinated operations of the CVP and SWP adopted in 2020 by the Trump Administration. Democrat committee chairs have not responded to the request.
Heat Ranking System Proposed - After experiencing some record-breaking summer heat, the State Legislature adopted legislation to create a heat ranking system for defining danger level, similar to ranking hurricanes. It would include a heat wave warning system and cooling centers.
Legislators Ask Governor to Declare Drought Emergency - A bipartisan group of Central Valley State Legislators sent a letter to Governor Newsom requesting him to immediately declare a drought emergency. Their request for immediate action was rejected, but the Governor said he will make the declaration “if it becomes necessary.”
Civil Rights Complaint Filed Over Delta - A coalition Tribes and Delta Environmental Justice Organizations filed a civils rights complaint and petition for rulemaking with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that seek to improve through-Delta flows to save fish species and prevent harmful algal blooms.
Court Curtails Water Boards Drought Enforcement Authority - The Court of Appeal upheld a Superior Court decision that the State Water Resources Control Board exceeded its statutory authority in the 2015 drought when it issued enforcement actions against valid pre-1914 appropriative water right holders. The SWRCB’s response indicates the decision does not affect their authority to curtail water rights through emergency regulations or to take actions against illegal diversions.
Appeal Court Upholds Legal Fees Arguments - The Third District Court of Appeal sides with plaintiffs seeking legal fees associated with CEQA lawsuits filed against the WaterFix Delta tunnel project. The appeal court overturned the trial court decision, claiming it failed to consider all relevant evidence and misapplied the legal standard for attorneys’ fees. The decision remands the matter to the Sacramento County Superior Court for reconsideration of whether DWR owes attorney fees to plaintiffs.
Water Board Releases Scientific Report on Voluntary Agreements - On January 5, 2023 the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued a Notice announcing an opportunity for the public to comment on a Scientific Basis Report Supplement in support of Voluntary Agreements for the Bay-Delta Plan Update. A public workshop will be held on Thursday, January 19, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at the CalEPA building in Sacramento. The deadline to submit comments is 12:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, 2023.
Managing Salinity in the Delta - In May, the California Council on Science and Technology (CCST), convened several experts to discuss managing salinity in the Delta, including strategies, that was very wide-ranging and worth reviewing.
Construction to Begin on Yolo Bypass Fish Restoration Project - In January 2022, DWR updated the CA Water Commission on the Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Fish Passage Project (“Big Notch”) to create floodplain habitat for juvenile salmon and improve the migration corridor for adult salmon. The project is necessary to fulfill the ESA regulatory requirements for the continued operation of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project water export pumps in Tracy. The preferred alternative sets the peak flow at 6,000 cfs and reduced to 1,000 to 300 cfs after March 15th. The infrastructure will include a lowered intake channel to the Sacramento River with a three-gate headwork structure. The inundation of a portion of the Yolo Bypass will occur more frequently and duration will last two weeks longer. In 2021, the state decided to use its eminent domain authority to force flow easements for the project, which requires the Commission to approve Resolutions of Necessity as the first step in the eminent domain process. First, DWR must try to negotiate a settlement with the landowners. With permitting completed in 2021, construction is anticipated to start in May 2022 and completed in November 2023, with the real estate acquisition process continuing through 2023.
Delta Channel Dredging Plan Released - A technical group of Delta representatives worked with State Water Contractors to develop a guide for restoring channel depths in the Delta to allow more efficient evacuation of flood flows and improve recreational opportunities. The final report, Planning Guide for the Channel Depth Restoration Program for the South Delta Channels, was released at the end of November 2021 with recommendations and next steps for implementation.
Interim Delta Flow Plan Proposed - After two years of implementation and several lawsuits by environmental organizations and the Newsom Administration, the biological opinions for the operation of the CVP and SWP are poised to change once again. Just before Thanksgiving, the Biden Administration filed in federal court to have an interim Delta pumping plan developed in coordination with state agencies to replace the current biological opinions while the Biden Administration completes a new set of operation rules. The interim operations prioritize water deliveries for municipal and industrial users in order to meet minimum health and safety needs. The Friant Water Authority immediately released a statement opposing the interim rules and many agricultural organizations followed.
DSC Denies Certification of Lookout Slough Restoration Project - In July, Liberty Island Access, a recreational group, was successful in having the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) deny the consistency certification for the Lookout Slough Habitat Restoration Project due to insufficiently addressing public access and recreational opportunities. The Solano County Board of Supervisors did not let the project denial at the DSC prevent them from unanimously approving in November a memorandum of understanding with DWR and the Dept. of Fish and Game. The Supervisors said that any recreational components added in through the DSC’s process, can also be incorporated into the MOU.
Flood Ready Website Launched - The Delta Protection Commission introduced a website page with resources to help Delta residents and businesses prepare and reduce their flood risks.
New Bureau Commissioner Confirmed - An expert on water rights from Nevada, Camille Touton, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. She will oversee Colorado River management and other water issues that effect the Western United States.
Antioch Breaks Ground on Alternative Water Supply - In 1968, the City of Antioch executed a settlement agreement in which the CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) pays one-third of the costs of supplemental water needed when Delta water becomes too salty as a result of upstream State Water Project export diversions. In mid-April 2020, the City Council voted to approve a new settlement agreement with DWR in which the State will instead provide $93 million for construction of a desalinization facility. City of Antioch broke ground on a Brackish Water Desalinization Plant to mitigate the impacts of climate change on local water supplies and implement drought reliability improvements. When completed it will produce 5,500 acre-feet of water per year.
Delta Water Rights Discussed - At the December 2020 State Water Resources Control Board meeting, the Delta Watermaster Michael George gave a presentation covering many topics related to water rights in the Delta.
State and Feds Part Ways on Delta Water Operations - After decades of being in lock-step in coordinating permitting for the operations of the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) pumps in Tracy, California has forged a new path with two recent actions. For the first time, the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFA) issued a state Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for the operation of the SWP. As is common in the Delta, lawsuits against the permits followed.
Record of Decision Approved on Long-Term Water Transfers - The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation signed a Record of Decision authorizing a long-term water transfer program.
Quarter of Delta Acreage Targeted for Conversion to Carbon Sink - The Delta Conservancy is nearing completion of third-party verification of managed wetlands for carbon emission reduction credits under the Delta Carbon Program. According to Conservancy Executive Director, Campbell Ingram, the land conversion idea has a target of 200,000 acres transitioning to managed wetlands or rice production – which is more than one quarter of the Delta. He believes the answer to reversing subsidence and carbon emissions lies in reverting part of the Delta to its former marshy environment. About 50,000 acres in this area are publicly owned, providing an opportunity to demonstrate the viability of carbon farming the neighboring lands in private ownership.
Menagerie of Delta Planning Efforts Available in One Place - Have you ever wondered how many Delta planning efforts there are? Ever wanted an easy way to find information on each of these planning efforts? Well your wish has come true. Maven’s Notebook has created a website page listing many of these Delta planning efforts with internet hyperlinks to sites that have more information, which will make all of our lives much easier.
NDWA Comments on Coordinated Ops of CVP/SWP - The Agency submitted letter commenting on Draft EIR/EIS analyzing the long-term coordinated operation of the CVP and SWP to maximize water exports and implement recent amendments to the Coordinated Operations Agreement (COA).
NDWA Comments on Delta Habitat Projects - Scoping comments were submitted by NDWA on a habitat restoration in Lookout Slough and on water supply project for the long-term operation of the State Water Project (SWP) including recent amendments to the Coordinated Operations Agreement with U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Central Valley Project (CVP).
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.
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 mega-project moving forward.
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.
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.
West Sacramento, CA 95691
Melinda Terry, Manager
NORTH DELTA WATER AGENCY
North Delta Water Agency
3050 Beacon Blvd., Ste 203, West Sacramento, CA 95691
Phone (916) 446-0197 Fax (916) 446-2404