Dec 1- NDWA Board Meeting
Feb 2 - NDWA Board Meeting
Click on "Issues" link above for more "Drought Info and Resources"
NEW! Update on Curtailment Actions - Visit Maven's newsletter provides a summary of recent actions and deadlines associated with curtailment orders issued by the State Water Resources Control Board, along with hyperlinks to take you to specific web pages with more information.
NEW! Water Board Workshop on Curtailment Compliance Forms - The State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is holding a public webinar on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 to provide an overview of the Diversion Curtailment Order (see below for more info on Order) and guidance on how to fill out the SWRCB's online Curtailment Compliance form. From 9:00 a.m. to noon water board staff will demonstrate how to comply with the curtailment and reporting requirements. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. the water board staff will discuss the enhanced reporting for diversions larger than 5,000 acre-feet.
NEW! Diversion Curtailment and Compliance Reporting Required in the Delta Watershed - In response to ongoing drought conditions and associated water supply shortages in the Delta watershed, on August 3, 2021 the SWRCB adopted an emergency regulation authorizing the curtailment of water diversions for water rights specified in the notice. This curtailment emergency regulations was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and went into effect on August 19, 2021. Water users within the NDWA can continue diverting under the rights provided in the NDWA 1981 Contract, but must still file the online Curtailment Certification of Compliance on the SWRCB's website and mark the "Other" box in the "Alternative Source of Water" section. Once you mark "Other" you must also provide additional information in box below on your alternative source of water. The Agency advises you to confer with your legal counsel on wording to put in this box, but offers the following language provided by the Delta Watermaster to consider using: "The place of use for this water right is within the boundaries of the North Delta Water Agency. Therefore, should the underlying water right be deemed insufficient to support diversion and use, I claim the right to make up any alleged deficiency to meet beneficial use under the water supply contract between NDWA and the State of California." This wording is just an example and not required to be used exactly. At a minimum the wording you provide in the "additional information" box must reference the NDWA's 1981 Contract with the Department of Water Resources as the alternative source of water indicated when you marked the "Other" box.
NDWA Hosts Informational Drought Briefing - The North Delta Water Agency is convening an informational only Special Board Meeting via teleconference at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 25, 2021 for the purpose of holding a drought briefing to update landowners and reclamation districts on current conditions and actions. Delta Watermaster Michael George will give a presentation regarding recently approved curtailment regulations, explain exemption from curtailment within NDWA, and explain requirements for certain water right holder to comply with additional reporting requirements established in the curtailment regulations. The Agency will provide information about exceedances of the salinity criteria in late June and early July at Rio Vista and Three Mile Slough monitoring locations, daily water quality fluctuations that affect timing of irrigation, and describe the drought provisions in the 1981 Contract. NEW! Click HERE to see the PowerPoint presentation provided by NDWA staff that explains current drought conditions and provisions in the NDWA's 1981 Contract with DWR related to the right to continue diverting and compensation process during drought. NEW! Click Here to watch the entire Drought Briefing from August 25, 2021.
SWRCB Releases Draft Emergency Curtailment Regulation - On July 23, 2021 the State Water Resources Control Board released draft emergency regulation to authorize the curtailment of water diversions for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed that will apply to all post-1914 water right holders and some pre-1914 and even riparian. At its August 3, 2021 the SWRCB adopted the emergency curtailment regulation . The next step is for the Office of Administrative Law to review and then will be enforceable by the water board sometime in late August. It is important for water users within NDWA to know that under the Agency's 1981 Contract, DWR is obligated to furnish water from the State Water Project to meet the reasonable and beneficial uses on lands within the NDWA, to the extent water may not otherwise be available under the water users' own water rights. This means that even if a landowner or reclamation district's water rights are curtailed by the SWRCB, within NDWA landowners may continue to divert water pursuant to the 1981 Contract to the extent water from the State Water Project is physically available. If you own land within NDWA and you receive a water right curtailment order, it is important that you follow the water diversion and use reporting procedures and requirements established by the SWRCB. Further, you should state that your continued diversion and use of water is occurring under the alternative water supply assurances provided by the State under the 1981 Contract. If you have questions regarding the notice or certification form, contact Kristi Matal in the Delta Watermaster's Office by calling (916) 319- 8264 or emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, due to the serious shortage of water in the system and extremely low reservoir storage levels, water users should explore opportunities to conserve water when possible.
Salinity Levels Exceeded at Three Mile Slough and Rio Vista - For approximately two weeks, between late June and early July 7 2021, the 14-day mean Electrical Conductivity (EC) exceeded the salinity criteria in the 1981 NDWA Contract at both the Rio Vista and Three Mile Slough monitoring locations (see memo by MBK Engineers); however, the mean daily values at these locations have been below the criteria since about the first of July. Because real time conditions at all seven monitoring locations fluctuates with the tides; growers and irrigators should monitor conditions near their diversion points. Currently, the salinity levels at all seven monitoring locations specified in the Contract are within the water quality criteria, but is trending up at the Three Mile Slough location.
Weekly Water Quality Charts - Due to existing drought conditions, the Delta region will experience fluctuating water quality on a daily and even hourly basis due to tidal action and CVP/SWP operations, so each water user is encouraged to check data daily on monitoring stations near your diversion point that is provided on State's CDEC portal. The NDWA engineering consultants regularly track the water quality at the seven monitoring locations specified in the 1981 Contract and meet weekly with State Water Project (SWP) operations staff. Below are graphs that chart the weekly fluctuation of water quality at these seven locations (click on each to see weekly chart):
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.
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.”
State Legislature Reconvenes with New COVID-19 Rules - After an extended spring break, the State Assembly returned to work on Monday, May 4. About 300 bills were referred to policy committees by the Assembly Rules Committee last week; but most are not yet in print. To comply with guidelines on social distancing, committee hearings will be held on the Assembly Floor and advocates are being asked to communicate electronically as much as possible. The manner in which hearings will be conducted is unknown, but insiders anticipate a limit on those allowed to testify in person. The Senate returned to Sacramento on Monday, May 11.
State Budget Outlook is Bleak - In just a few months, the state’s fiscal situation has shifted from a projected multi-billion budget surplus, to a $54 billion deficit due to the economic blow from the shutdown during an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. This amount is about 37% of the state’s entire annual general fund. A report by the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) outlines the severe negative economic consequences resulting from the state’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis; predicting the deep recession we find ourselves in, will last for years.
Critically Dry Water Year Confirmed - The fourth snow survey of the season conducted by DWR on April 1st confirmed that California is officially in a critically dry year. April 1 is normally when the snowpack is deepest and has the highest water content, however the survey found the statewide snowpack is 59% of average for the date.
State Issues Preliminary Drought Notices - On March 22, 2021 the State Water Resources Control Board mailed preliminary notices to all water right holders advising them to prepare for statewide drought conditions and potential water shortages. Hydrologic conditions are similar to the 2014-15 drought years. The letter encourages everyone to prepare now for possible water supply shortages and consider implementing actions to increase drought resiliency
Drought Conditions in California Worsen - With California in second consecutive dry year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced the allocation for agricultural water contractors south of the Delta will be reduced to zero and DWR reduced State Water Project allocations from 10% to 5% of requested supplies. Stakeholders are expressing fear that the reservoirs will be drained by summer.
Bureau Releases Western Water Reliability Report - The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released new annual SECURE Water Act Report with Climate and Hydrology Assessment and seven basin reports providing climate change impacts and adaptation strategies.
Delta Outflow Gets a Boost - In mid-March, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation tripled water releases from Folsom Lake to 20,000 acre-feet of water, despite Folsom storage being close to the reservoir’s worst year on record in 1977 for low water level. These releases were necessary to meet state water quality requirements for Delta outflow, increasing it from 7,000 cfs to 12,000 cfs for a few days.
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.
File Water Diversion Statement or Pay Fine - Annual water diversion statements must be filed with the State Water Resources Control Board by July 1st. After that, the Deltawatermaster will be applying $500 per day fines pursuant to state law.
Flood Approves Early Army Corps Review - At its May 2020 meeting, the Central Valley Flood Protection Board approved a Statement of No Objection letter for two large Delta projects intended to improve SWP/CVP water supply reliability: 1) Delta Conveyance Project to construct new diversions on Sacramento and tunnel to water export facilities; and 2) Yolo Bypass Salmonid Habitat Restoration Project to notch the Fremont Weir and installation of an operable diversion gate to allow more frequent inundation of the Yolo Bypass to generate food production for juvenile salmon according to an informational presentation provided at its April meeting. The flood board's letters for these projects authorize the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to initiate early 408 review before the projects have reached the normal 60% level of design.
Wetland Conversion Begins on Sherman Island - DWR has begun construction of the Whale’s Belly Wetlands Restoration Project on Sherman Island in the Delta. This is one of the most geographically important locations for SWP and CVP water conveyance; and the Project is part of the CA EcoRestore initiative to restore at least 30,000 acres in the Delta to comply with habitat requirements in the federal Biological Opinions for the coordinated operation of the SWP and CVP water export facilities. The project is also a pilot project in the Delta Conservancy’s Carbon Program to convert up to 200,000 acres in the Delta and to sell the carbon credits in a cap-and-trade market. The sale of these credits was previously promoted by DWR to offset the costs the BDCP, so may still be a financial strategy for implementation of the Delta Conveyance Project.
DWR Rejects Western Tunnel Alignment - In his scoping comments on the Delta Conveyance Project, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) described the benefits of the western alignment and requested DWR to provide explanation, if they decide to reject this as an alternative to be evaluated in the EIR. The Department gave seven reasons why they do not consider the western alignments to be a feasible alternative: 1) an in-channel fish screen would require fish capture and handling; 2) the City of West Sacramento has cited inconsistencies with its general plan; 3) the levees along the Deep Water Ship Channel (DWSC) would need to be raised; 4) the sediment in the DWSC is contaminated and would require dredging or capping to protect water supply; 5) a lock in the DWSC would block access to Cache Slough for spawning and rearing Delta Smelt; 6) lock locations would need to be placed same area as northern diversion to avoid Smelt impacts; and 7) would have impacts on Freeport Regional Water Authority Project and the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation facilities.
Appeal Court Upholds Landowner’s Riparian Rights - The California Third Court of Appeal recently issued a water rights ruling (Modesto Irrigation District (MID) v. Tanaka; Super. Ct. No. 34-2011-00112886-CU-JR-GDS), regarding maintenance of riparian rights when property is sold and no longer contiguous to the water source. The trial court ruled against a landowner of property that was originally part of a 250,000-acre property next to the Middle River, but is no longer contiguous; declaring that landowner did not have a water right to divert from the river. On appeal, the court looked more closely at the language in the grant deed to determine if the parties intended to maintain the riparian water rights. The court also considered extrinsic evidence related to the conveyance of the property. Ultimately, the appeal court reversed the trial court and ruled that the wording in the deed did in fact intend to transfer everything belonging to the subject property, including the riparian water right to divert from the Middle River. The plaintiff, Modesto Irrigation District, plans to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court.
Delta Conveyance Project Comments - April 17, 2020 was the deadline to submit scoping comments on the Notice of Preparation for the new single tunnel project dubbed the Delta Conveyance Project (DCP). Comment letters were submitted by NDWA and many others.
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.
Antioch Settlement Agreement with DWR - 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, the City Council voted on approval of a new settlement agreement with DWR in which Antioch will receive $70 million in financing for construction of the Antioch Brackish Water Desalinization Plant. The funding will include a direct payment of $27 million and additional $43 million in state grants and loans.
RTD Comments on Southern Delta Salinity Plan - Restore the Delta submitted comment letter on the State Resources Water Control Board's (SWRCB) Notice of Availability for a draft Comprehensive Operations Plan for the Southern Delta Salinity Objective prepared by DWR and USBR.
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.
New Delta Lead Scientist Selected - The Delta Stewardship Council announced the appointment of Dr. Laurel Larson as the new Lead Scientist, who is responsible for overseeing the Delta Science Program.
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.
Pause Requested on Delta Conveyance Project - In light of the COVID-19 state of emergency, the Delta Counties Coalition sent letter to Secretary Crowfoot requesting a stay on the public processes for planning single-tunnel Delta Conveyance Project (DCP).
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).
WaterFix Project Documents Rescinded - DWR and USBR withdrew the change of diversion petition and CEQA certification for WaterFix twin tunnels project in order to initiate planning of a single tunnel project diversion and conveyance project. On July 15, 2019, NDWA filed a Request for Dismissal and the court entered the dismissal as requested.
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
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