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 (Staten Island and San Andreas Landing); however, the salinity levels in the Sacramento River at Rio Vista location have also been rising close to Contract Criteria. 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.
Due to extreme fluctuations and spikes in salinity that can occur, we continue to advise all water users to monitor the daily and hourly fluctuations in salinity levels on the CDEC website before diverting:
Annual reporting of water diversion and use to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) is now required in the Delta. Changes in the SWRCB's online reporting form this year is creating confusion for water users, and is particularly frustrating for NDWA water users because the water board failed to design it in a way to allow insertion of information about the contractual water supply that water users within North Delta Water Agency (NDWA) boundaries may report as an alternative source of water they will continue diverting under if water rights for their property have been curtailed by the SWRCB. To assist water users within the NDWA to fill out the "Water Contract Supply" section of the online form we have developed recommended wording available here.
Please visit the following links on SWRCB's website for more information on filling out the rest of the water use report and other online water rights forms:
Questions about completing SWRCB's online reports should be directed to:
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 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.
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).
***To receive immediate emails from SWRCB about curtailment notices sign up for their"Drought Updates" by clicking here.***
The CA Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced in April that the two barriers proposed in the North Delta at Sutter and Steamboat Sloughs are cancelled this year, but the department would continue with installation of a temporary drought barrier at West False River (WFR) location which was completed in June. Following website links offer additional information:
DSC Independent Science Board Barrier Recommendations (May 26, 2015)
Press Release - Sutter/Steamboat barriers cancelled but WFR installation moving forward (April 15, 2015)
Mitigated Negative Declaration/Initial Study (EIR) - Delta Drought Barriers (Jan 2015)
Press Release - EIR comment extended for barrier project (February 13, 2015)
DWR Barrier Powerpoint in Clarksburg (February 12, 2015)
Barrier Planning Update (February 2015)
Press Release - Notice to install three drought barriers in the Delta (January 26, 2015)
DWR Barrier Alternatives Analysis - Comparison of two versus three drought barriers in Delta (January 28, 2015)
Press Release - Installation of Delta emergency drought barriers cancelled (April 18, 2014)
Governor Drought Proclamation - Statutory waivers and police powers invoked for barrier installation (April 1, 2015)
Cancellation Notice - Delta emergency drought barriers (2014)
Drought Barrier Monitoring Locations - Addition of 10 new stations
SWRCB's water quality certification of the project (Opens SWRCB site)
DWR Emergency Channel Closure Locations Study (June 2012)
Delta Drought Emergency Barriers Report (April 2009 Admin Draft)
DWR Bulletion 132, Appendix E (1977)
DWR report on the 1976 barriers' impacts (1977)
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.
Additional DWR Drought Documents
TUCPs Requesting Modification of SWP/CVP Operations to Meet Delta Standards