NORTH DELTA WATER AGENCY
February 7, 2024 - Board of Directors Meeting, 3050 Beacon Blvd., Ste 203, West Sacramento,9:30 a.m.
February 13, 2024 - Special Board of Directors Meeting, 3050 Beacon Blvd., Ste 203, West Sacramento, 3:30 p.m.
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