NORTH DELTA WATER AGENCY
Water Unavailability Notice Issued - On June 15, 2021 the SWRCB sent water rights holders in the Sacramento Delta watershed a Notice of Water Unavailability for Post-1914 appropriative water rights. This Notice is solely informational and not an order to cease diversions (curtailment), but it is intended to emphasize the dire drought conditions that currently exist and notify water users that the SWRCB is in the process of developing curtailment orders through emergency regulations as the next step. Water users are requested to fill out a SWRCB Certification Form to indicate if water user has an additional water source available, such as the right to continue diverting under the provisions of the 1981 NDWA-DWR Contract. The Notice also includes a warning of water availability likely to be declared later in the summer for both Pre-1914 water rights and riparian claimants. Regardless of the underlying water rights on properties within the NDWA jurisdiction, all water users in NDWA are allowed to continue diverting pursuant to the 1981 Contract under this SWRCB Notice and any future curtailment orders approved by the SWRCB. However, because of the existence of water unavailability in the system, all water users should judicious in irrigation practices and conserve whenever possible.
DWR Applies for Barrier Permit - The SWRCB conditionally approved a Section 401 permit for the construction of a temporary urgency drought barrier on the West False River. Construction started on June 3, 2021 and was completed
TUCP for CVP/SWP Operations Conditionally Approved - On June 1, 2021, the SWRCB conditionally approved a Temporary Urgency Change Petition (TUCP) authorizing changes to obligations for maintaining Delta water quality objectives specified in D-1641 from June 1 thru August 15 in order to preserve reservoir carryover storage conditions going into next year, including moving salinity compliance from Emmaton location to Three Mile Slough.
SWRCB Orders Diversion Curtailment and Compliance Reporting - In response to ongoing drought conditions and associated water supply shortages in the Delta watershed, on August 3, 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation authorizing the curtailment of diversions in the Delta watershed. This emergency regulation was approved by the Office of Administrative Law and went into effect on August 19, 2021.
Salinity Exceedances at Three Mile Slough and Rio Vista - The 1981 NDWA-DWR Contract contains water quality criteria that must be met year-round at seven locations in the North Delta (North Fork of Mokelumne River near Walnut Grove; Mokelumne River at Terminus/Staten Island; Sacramento River at Walnut Grove; Sacramento River at Rio Vista; Sacramento River at Three Mile Slough; San Joaquin River at San Andreas Landing; Steamboat Slough at Sutter Slough) . The NDWA has notified DWR that the 14-day mean EC (Electrical Conductivity) has exceeded the 1981 Contract Criteria at both the Three Mile Slough and Rio Vista monitoring locations since June 28, 2021 , and requested that DWR indicate what actions the department will take to regain compliance. The salinity levels at the other five monitoring locations continue to be in compliance with Contract Criteria. Although the 14-day mean EC is above the Contract Criteria at Three Mile Slough and Rio Vista, 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. Since July 9, 2021 the water quality (salinity levels) have been in compliance with Contract criteria at all seven monitoring locations.
SWRCB Notice of Water Unavailability
On June 15, 2021, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) sent out a Notice of Water Unavailability (Notice) to Post-1914 Water Right Holders in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Watershed (Delta) , including those within the North Delta Water Agency (NDWA). The Notice, which is solely informational, states there is insufficient water to support diversions under all post-1914 appropriative water rights and requires these post-1914 water right holders to document receipt of the Notice within seven (7) days by completing an online Water Unavailability Certification Form (Form), which allows you to identify the 1981 NDWA Contract as your alternative water supply source for diversion. The Notice is NOT an order by the SWRCB to immediately stop diverting, but serves an advisory warning about serious conditions and a precursor to the SWRCB sending out future curtailment notice (order to cease and desist water diversion) due to the current water unavailability conditions in the Delta watershed. According to a SWRCB Media Release, the water unavailability for Post-1914 Water Right Holders is likely to remain in place until winter rains return natural flows. In addition, the June 15 Notice also warns of potential future water unavailability for senior water rights (pre-1914 and riparian claims) in the near future. It is important for NDWA water users to understand you have the right to continue diverting pursuant to the 1981 NDWA Contract, regardless of the water right you have, but you MUST still complete and submit the Water Unavailability Certification Form identifying the right to continue diverting under a senior claim of right and/or the NDWA Contract. To stay informed and receive future Notices from the SWRCB, including orders to immediately curtail water diversions, you can subscribe to the water board's Delta Drought List.
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.
ADDITINAL DROUGHT INFO 2021-2022
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.
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.
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
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 was held scheduled on August 3, 2022to have DWR explain the claims process, eligibility, and application. See YouTube Link to watch meeting.
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