NORTH DELTA WATER AGENCY
As explained in a July 8, 2015 MBK memo, NDWA has officially notified DWR that salinity levels have exceeded the 1981 Contract Criteria at the Three Mile Slough monitoring location since July 5, 2015, and requested DWR indicate what actions the department will take to regain compliance. All other monitoring locations specified in the Contract continue to be in compliance. To improve water quality conditions at Three Mile Slough, DWR modified State Water Project operations on July 7, 2015 to increase water releases from Oroville reservoir from 3,000 cfs to 3,250 cfs and decrease exports from the Delta to minimum human health and safety standards. In addition, DWR indicated that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation also intends to increase releases from Folsom Dam, but will keep the Delta Cross Channel gates open for recreation and to maintain water quality in the interior Delta channels. Despite these recent water project operational changes, the salinity levels in the Sacramento River continue to exceed the Contract Criteria at the Three Mile Slough location; therefore, the Agency is currently working with DWR on establishing a claims process to pay compensation to landowners for crop damage resulting from any exceedances of Contract Criteria.
SWRCB DROUGHT NOTICES AND CURTAILMENT ORDERS
Curtailment Orders Rescinded - A legal challenge by agencies in the South Delta has resulted in the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) rescinding previous diversion curtailment orders issued in April, May, and June on post-1914 and pre-1914 (1903 and after only) in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River watersheds. To comply with judges decision, the water board issued new "informational" curtailment notices that clarify that water users no longer have to cease diversions or fill out Curtailment Certification Form as previously directed, but warned the the legal ruling also confirmed the SWRCB still has the statutory authority to apply significant penalties for diversions in these watersheds if they provide proper due process by first inspecting water diversion, issuing cease and desist order, and rendering decision after holding a public hearing.
Riparian Diversions - The SWRCB Executive Director, Tom Howard issued a letter on June 16, 2015 to clarify riparian water users can still continue to divert, however the water board's website says that the curtailment of riparian water rights in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River watersheds and Delta is currently under review. NDWA water users who receive curtailment notices may continue to divert water without being charged with illegal water use by the SWRCB pursuant to assurances provided in the 1981 Contract with DWR (see NDWA memo to landowners).
The CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced in April 2014 that the two temporary emergency drought barriers proposed in the North Delta at Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs are cancelled this year, but the department did continue with installation of a temporary barrier at West False River (WFR) location , completed in June.
DWR provided a 2015 Drought Contingency Plan for SWP and CVP operations from January 15, 2015 through September 30, 2015 that were followed up with individual Temporary Urgency Change Petitions (TUCP) requesting additional modifications to the conditions on the SWP/CVP water rights licenses to meet Delta standards. In response to the proposed Drought Plan, NDWA wrote a letter to DWR requesting language be added that recognizes the department must operate the State Water Project to maintain water quality obligations in the 1981 Contract and acknowledge the ongoing negotiations on terms and conditions for complying with the Contract if drought barriers are installed in Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs.
On July 3, 2015, SWRCB Executive Director Tom Howard approved the latest TUCP request submitted by DWR and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Ten days later, DWR notified SWRCB that the modified D-1641 salinity standard set at Jersey Point was being exceeded (violated) starting on July 9, 2015 (less than a week after Howard approved the relaxed D-1641 criteria in TUCP). Ten days after SWRCB approves latest TUCP, DWR notified SWRCB of salinity criteria in modified D-1641 being exceeded at Jersey Point as of July 9, 2015. This location is NOT a violation of the NDWA Contract.
NDWA Hosts Informational Drought Briefing - The latest information on drought conditions and potential implementation of the emergency drought provision in the NDWA 1981 Contract will be discussed at a public online meeting scheduled for Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 9:30 am.
Additional DWR Drought Documents
TUCPs Requesting Modification of SWP/CVP Operations to Meet Delta Standards