Apr 12 Delta Sign Plan mtg, Rio Vista Library, 44 South Second Street
May 24 Delta Sign Plan mtg, Big Break Park, 69 Big Break Road, Oakley
June 6 NDWA Board of Directors meeting
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.
WaterFix Petition Hearing - The SWRCB announced Part 2 of the WaterFix Petition hearings are postponed a second time and rescheduled to start on February 8th to provide more time for the hearing officers to review motions filed by Delta Alliance et al and Sacramento County et al, both alleging violations of the ex parte rules. DWR provided response opposing the City of Antioch et al motion asking for continuance of WaterFix hearing Part 2 and reopening of Part 1 due to project changing to single tunnel and new operations scenario submitted by DWR showing significant increases in salinity than modeling submitted during Part 1.
WaterFix Construction Animation - DWR has posted 4 videos on YouTube of WaterFix project construction animation that show site preparation and construction activities involved in building intakes, tunnels, new Hwy. 160, barge facilities, and deep tunnel shafts.
Status of WaterFix Project - In accordance with State CEQA laws, DWR certified the WaterFix Final EIR On July 21, 2017 with Statement of Overriding Considerations (unmitigated significant impacts) and Mitigation Monitoring Program, and submitted Notice of Determination to State Clearinghouse. Despite previous announcement by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) to approve Record of Decision (ROD) for WaterFix one week after DWR certified EIR, the USBR has not yet approved the ROD and not given any update on when it plans to do so. Several CEQA lawsuits were filed by local agencies and environmental organizations against the WaterFix EIR. The NDWA is not opposed to the project, but has filed a CEQA lawsuit and a protest of the change of diversion petition in order to ensure the project is designed an operated in a manner that ensures the water supply availability assurances and water quality criteria in the 1981 Contract with DWR are upheld. In addition, biological opinions were also released by NMFS and USFWS, with 2081 Incidental Take Permit being issued by CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) claiming WaterFix Project would not cause injury to fish or wildlife. Environmental organizations immediately filed lawsuits against the BiOps, followed by another coalition of environmental groups and the California Indian Water Commission filing a separate lawsuit against a validation action to authorize DWR to sell revenue bonds to finance the project. Additional permit approvals are still required from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, SWRCB, and other agencie, and California law (CWC Sec. 85088) requires approval of a change of diversion petition by the SWRCB (see info on Petition Hearings below) before construction of WaterFix can begin. Waterfix is currently at a "conceptual" 10% level of design, which is acknowledged in the first of three white papers by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) to inform their board of directors before vote on project in September.
Delta Water Quality Control Plan Update - The State Water Resources Control Board is in the process of updating the flow and salinity requirements (D-1641) for the Delta through a multi-phase process.
State Audit of WaterFix Project Released - Pursuant to a 2016 request from State Legislators, the California State Auditor released a report exposing deficiencies in WaterFix project program management and describing significant cost increases and delays.
Congressional Oversight Hearing & GAO Investigation of WaterFix Funding Requested - On September 13, 2017, members of Congress representing the Delta sent a letter to the Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee requesting he schedule an oversight hearing for testimony regarding a report by the Department of Interior's Inspector General exposing the misuse of federal taxpayer funds by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to subsidize CVP water contractors for costs of developing planning documents for the BDCP/WaterFix project without disclosing to Congress or the public. More recently, six Congressional members also requested an investigation of WaterFix funding by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Congressman McNerney Proposes Delta Alternative to WaterFix - Delta Representative Jerry McNerney has introduced legislation in Congress proposing the funding of a comprehensive suite of water supply and conservation projects as an alternative to the CA WaterFix twin tunnels project being promoted by Governor Brown.
Delta Elected Officials Respond to WaterFix Biological Opinions - In response to release of biological opinions by federal fish and wildlife agencies (USFWS and NMFS) claiming the WaterFix project will not cause jeopardy of endangered species, six Delta Congressional members issued a statement criticizing the BiOps and opposing the WaterFix project as currently proposed. Assemblyman Jim Frazier also condemned the no jeopardy conclusion in WaterFix BiOps.
Delta Congressional Delegation Introduces National Heritage Area Designation Legislation - Delta Congressmen Garamendi and McNerney jointly introducedH.R. 1738 as a companion bill to S. 731 jointly sponsored by Senators Feinstein and Harris to establish the Delta as a National Heritage Area. S. 731 passed out of the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee last week. The national designation would come with $10 million in federal funding over 15 years to assist the implementation of a locally developed management plan.
Delta Pumping Approved by President Obama - Controversial language allowing increased amounts of water be exported from the Delta by existing CVP/SWP pumps was inserted into a popular federal infrastructure bill that authorizes levee construction in the Sacramento Valley, and approved by Congress and signed into law by President Obama.
Expedite Delta WQCP Update - A coalition of state legislators representing the Delta and Bay Area sent a letter to State Water Resources Control Board requesting they expedite completion of establishing new flow standards in the update of the Bay-Delta water quality control plan (D-1641) .
Senator Wolk Hearing on WaterFix - The video of a 2016 Select Committee on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, chaired by Senator Lois Wolk, includes CA Natural Resources Secretary John Laird acknowledging that the WaterFix project won't move ahead unless it pencils out fiscally for water districts that would receive benefit.
One Tunnel or Two? - The Metropolitan Water District is board of directors is scheduled to vote on whether to fund the construction of two tunnels or support DWR's proposal to only fund construction one tunnel now and delay second tunnel until a later date. MWD staff is recommending support of single tunnel option. Governor Brown sent letter urging MWD board to fully fund entire project (two tunnels) instead of staging construction to build single tunnel now and second tunnel later.
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.
Deadline to Install Water Measurement Devices - The State Water Resources Control Board reminds water users that January 1, 2018 is the deadline to install water measurement devices pursuant to 2015 legislation. Check SWRCB website for forms for measurement methods, alternative compliance plans, and requests for additional time.
Interim Report on Delta Consumptive Water Use Released - The UC Davis Center for Watershed Science released an interim study commissioned by the Delta Watermaster on measuring consumptive water use in the Delta. Research teams evaluated crop evapotranspiration (direct evaporation and plant transpiration) which could be used in future discussions and actions related to administration of water rights, water project management, agricultural irrigation management, and environmental and water quality protection.
Delta Tourism Website Launched - A joint venture by the Delta Conservancy and Delta Protection Commission has resulted in a new website, VisitCaDelta.com, to promote tourism in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
Seattle's Tunneling Machine Reaches Target - After four years of delays due to equipment repairs and a labor strike, video shows the "Big Bertha" tunneling machine reaching end of its 2-mile long journey. A double-deck highway will be constructed inside and opened to Seattle drivers in 2019.
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.
Congressional Investigation of Westlands - Congressman Jared Huffman has requested an investigation of two items: 1) a recent drainage settlement agreement between Westlands Water District (WWD) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) that would waive funding debt and environmental responsibilities for WWD; and 2) a Securities Exchange Commission fine issued against WWD for improperly stating financial assets in two bond sales.
Inspector General Investigation of WaterFix Funding - In response to a complaint filed by an anonymous federal employee through the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an investigation of possible illegal use of federal funding by the State of California for the WaterFix project has been initiated by an Inspector General with the U.S. Interior Department.
Melinda Terry, Manager
NORTH DELTA WATER AGENCY
|NDWA Board Meetings|
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.