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Madera County Farmers Won’t Pay $246 per Acre, For Now December 7, 2022

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By Taisto Smith

On September 13, 2022 the Valley Groundwater Coalition, led by president and longtime Madera County landowner Ralph Pistoresi, represented by law firm Wild, Carter & Tipton, filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the County of Madera; Madera County Superior Court case number MCV087677:  Valley Groundwater Coalition vs. County of Madera.

The main issue at hand is whether or not farmers within the Madera County Groundwater Sustainability Agency (“Madera County GSA”) must pay the $246 per acre “GSP Project Fee” imposed by the Madera County GSA. The $246 per acre was imposed via a controversial Proposition 218 election which took place earlier this year. The $246 per acre first appeared on farmers’ 2022-2023 property tax bills. Time is of the essence because the first installment of the property taxes would be considered delinquent if not paid by December 12. According to the Coalition, the $246 per acre is a “tax”, but according to the County it is “fee.”

A preliminary injunction hearing was originally scheduled for last week but there were last minute issues regarding conflicts of interest. On Friday, December 2nd, the case was assigned to The Honorable D. Lynn Collet and the preliminary injunction hearing was rescheduled for December 6th.Technoflo

On Tuesday, December 6th, at 10:30 AM approximately 30 to 40 landowners, farmers and interested parties filed into the courtroom at Department 40 in the Madera County Courthouse. Judge Collet heard arguments for and against issuing the preliminary injunction. Arguments were from Patrick Gorman, the attorney representing the Coalition, and Michael Linden, the attorney for Madera County.Conterra

Gorman and Linden went back and forth regarding Proposition 218, statutes of limitations, the status of Madera County GSA projects, various code sections and other arguments. Judge Collet had detailed and thoughtful questions for both sides. Judge Collet said she would need to review one of the cases cited. It was decided that the hearing would reconvene at 3:15 PM for her decision. At 3:15 PM the court reconvened. In deciding whether or not to grant the preliminary injunction, the court looked at the threat of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs versus the threat of harm the injunction would cause the County. Judge Collet decided to issue the preliminary injunction.

Yesterday was a win for the farmers and for the Valley Groundwater Coalition. This matter will be further litigated, but for now, the farmers in the Madera County GSA will not have to pay the $246 per acre GSP Project Fee portion of their 2022-2023 property taxes.

Taisto Smith holds a BS in Economics from UCLA. He is the Managing Member and part owner of Smith Adobe, LLC, a property management company responsible for the farming, conservation, and landlord-tenant relationships of the Adobe Ranch, a 10,600 acre ranch located in Madera County. Taisto Smith (formerly Erik Smith) legally changed his name in 2021 to honor his grandfather of Finnish descent. Taisto is currently pursuing his Executive MBA at Fresno State.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by www.WaterWrights.net/DAW

 

San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority December 8, 2022

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By Don A. Wright

The San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority held its board of directors meeting on Thursday, December 8, 2022 at its Los Banos headquarters and on Zoom. I was out of town at the Almond Conference and haven’t heard the latest on the official tallies from the recent storms. Usually, Tom Boardman gives a report at this meeting. Boardman used to work for San Luis Delta Mendota but now Westlands Water District sends him a love letter every week or two or once a month, I’m not privy to his payroll arrangements. So, if you miss his report here you get a chance to hear it at Westlands. Every time I hear one of his reports I threaten him with a phone call and a chance to explain to me how he can read so many tea leaves, feel his bunion, inspect the hog spleen, consult the Farmer’s Almanac and the Old Farmer’s Alamac and study what looks like to me some complicated charts and graphs to inform his report.

The Meeting

At 9:00am Chairman Cannon Michael welcomed everyone and said there is an opportunity for the public to comment. We then all joined in on a salute to the flag of the finest nation to ever exist on God’s earth. Everyone introduced themselves and that fulfilled roll call and established a quorum. The consent calendar was passed without any being pulled for further comment or discussion.

Action Items

Next Executive Director Federico Barajas presented the board with a list of dates for meetings in 2023. It’s never easy to herd cats or farmers into the same room at the same time so this is an important step. The board approved.

Barajas next recognized Westlands Water District’s General Manager Tom Birmingham who is retiring at the end of the month after 22-years. Barajas read off a long list of accomplishments and ended with a personal thank from him to Birmingham for all the help and fellowship over the years. Before he started with San Luis Barajas was with the US Bureau of Reclamation so they had a lot of interaction.

Birmingham thanked Barajas and SLDMWA for the opportunity to work with the organization and individuals. He said much has been written about his departure and much of it has been thoughtful and accurate but . . .  There was a rather splashy story about his retirement in the Sacramento Bee that included a statement that Birmingham had no patience with others’ opinions that differ from his. He said there could be nothing further from the truth. He said differing opinions lead to better dialog and decision making. What he doesn’t have patience for is opinions not based on fact. He said he recently read a statement from someone who claimed it is a fact Westlands doesn’t receive water from Shasta. He said that type of willful ignorance is frustrating. Amen brother.

Birmingham thanked a long list of people he’s worked with both currently and some who have passed on. The board unanimously voted to honor Birmingham with a resolution and there were some gifts and photo ops and such.

Water Resources

J. Scott Petersen said the water resources objectives of 2023 are fundamentally the same as the current 2022 objectives. He said there is a new group of legislators who need some extra attention. They need an education on SLDMWA’s piece of the puzzle.

Pablo Arroyave presented the board with the opportunity to spend $2.7 million on the Delta Mendota Canal for an agreement on Subsidence Mitigation Geotechnical Exploration Work, Issuance of Notice to Proceed for Phases 2 and 3, and Expenditures. Arroyave also asked the board to Consider Authorizing Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project Activity Agreement Expenditure of up to $1,094,000 in FY23 to Fund Amendment No. 4 to the Cost Share Agreement for Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project Planning. He did a good job because the board went for it both times.TechnoFlo

Legislation

Petersen gave the federal legislation update saying the number of communities available to dip into the disadvantaged pool has increased nationally by 4,000 and that includes some locations in SLDM. Officially the US Senate is 49 Republican and 51 Democrat. This means the committees will now have Dem majorities. Modesto farmer John Duarte has prevailed in a very close race for a House seat and that body now has a Republican majority. That should help keep some of the “woke” crazy at bay. January 7th will kick-off the first Farm Bill hearing. That $26 billion proposal is something to keep an eye on.

Consultant Dennis Cardoza reported from his car and he apologized as he was traveling. He also had a bicycle accident that resulted in blood clot so he can’t fly until next month. Prayers. Cardoza reported at the moment the moderates of both parties are having a difficult time in this lame duck session.

On the state side Petersen reported the Delta Conveyance EIR comment period deadline is next Friday so weigh in now or hold your peace or is it piece? There is now grant funding available to reduce climate change being offered by the state. Sign me up. There is also Land Repurposing program funding out there to help us fallow. The new leader of the Assembly Robert Rivas has some knowledge of agriculture and that’s nice.

Kristin Olsen said Monday was the day of swearing in of the state elected officials. She said there is still one race out there – State Senator Melissa Hurtado looks like she’s pulling ahead. Unbelievably votes for this race have yet to be officially tabulated a month after election day. A Modesto Assemblyman has introduced a bill to set aside a portion of the state’s revenue for water programs. That faces a tough battle.

Director Bill Diedrich said all of this talk about farming for future climate change is just a way to drive farmers out of business. He said fuel costs are making the economic turndown deadly for farm production. He said regenerative farming is a buzz word, climate friendly ag just means lower production. The Farm Bill crafters need to be extremely aware of this. He urges staff and consultants to get elected officials to tour farms.  Michael added there are those who want all agriculture in California to be organic.

Twenty years or more ago I spoke with a professor from Auburn about organic farming and genetically modified organisms. This man whose name escapes me, came from the third world and was very passionate about the subject. He said there are strains of rice than produce vitamin A but are banned by the European Union as GMOs. The professor told me more than a million children in impoverished nations go blind from a lack of vitamin A annually. He also said, and this was more than 20-years ago, in order to organically grow as much food as was then being produced by conventional, modern agriculture – every square inch that could support cattle would have to be put to work to produced enough organic fertilizer. Now, that’s a lot of cow farts. So the magic thinkers who want all organic need to grow it themselves or not worry about climate change due to bovine flatulence or be willing to trade one for another. Or, and this is a big one, some of the extremes need to do like Birmingham suggested and make it a practice to base policy on facts and be aware of the concept of unintended consequences.

COO Report

Barajas reminded everyone the budget schedule meeting will be next week and in-person only. Arroyave said two applications for infrastructure, the DMC subsidence correction and one of the pumping plants on the system needing repairs which went from $8 million to $11 million are submitted. On the other side of the spectrum some welcome information, the Yuba Water transfer amounts have increased, so good news.

Arroyave requested a letter to SLDM members stating water orders based on three allocation scenarios: dry, normal and wet, I believe. This will allow staff to develop estimates for O&M costs and other accounting needs. He asked for a quick turnaround on responses.

Water Report

Boardman said even though Shasta storage is higher than at this time last year, the runoff to the reservoir isn’t ticking up. One reason is the soil is pretty dry. However, the temperatures have been low and the higher elevation snowpacks are developing nicely. More rain and storms are expected soon. The snowpack above Folsom is more than 160 percent of normal. Federal pumping is limited to one unit at the Banks plant and salinity is a problem. There are conditions from channel barriers are causing saltier water to slosh around the central and southern Delta interiors, if I understood. The next series of storms should provide some pulse that will create a stronger force to freshen the water and allow more pumping. However, there is a provision known as the First Flush Action designed to protect smelt. If increased Sacramento River inflows create increased turbidity, it can cause pumping restrictions. Although more water is entering the Delta less can be exported. Does there need to be any other example of why the current antiquated fish screens need to be updated with an environmentally friendly design? That is the fundamental reason for the Water Blueprint in my opinion.

Boardman said the Cooperative Operations Agreement figures need to be adjusted in response to further USBR numbers. The state owes the feds 59,000 a/f at San Luis Reservoir. Speaking of SLR things are running about 30,000 a/f below what was being expected in earlier estimates. To get above a 700,000 a/f federal share at SLR it needs to rain. Del Puerto GM Anthea Hansen asked if the pumping amounts do go up will the DMC dewatering stop. Arroyave said yes of course.

Committee & Other Reports      

Michael said Birmingham approached him before today’s meeting and told him he’d understand if he wanted someone else to give the Water Resources Committee report. Michael said no, he doesn’t want Birmingham to have to ever stop giving that report.

Mike Wade reported the California Farm Water Coalition has been active for 30-years carrying its educational message to the non-farm population. He said CFWC has always tried to be as efficient as possible. He said things have changed and they have to purchase more social media exposure. They used to buy a lot of radio. He said Linda Resnick heard a radio advertisement while driving around Southern California and she directed Wonderful’s staff to reach out to CFWC.

Wade said they’ve spent more than $100,000 to bring more than 200,000 visits to its website. There’s a museum in Sacramento CFWC has contributed to helping educate children about water in the state. He said Stanford University has released a report that dams can help feed people by providing irrigation. He said he likes to think some of CFWC and the Family Farm Alliance has helped inform this report.

Diedrich said as chair of the CFWC he is tasked with helping to get the resources needed to continue the work. He urged any manager who felt his or her board needed a goose to donate to CFWC to let him know and he and Wade would happily attend their meeting with a well-timed power point.

Director John Varela gave the ACWA conference update and said he’d like to get a copy of the Stanford report. He said he meets with the President of Stanford regularly and wants to question him about it. He said the recent ACWA gathering at Indian Wells was very successful. He said traveling there showed how much fallowed land there is in California and it is a scary amount. Talk about a food desert.

Petersen reported the Water Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley has cancelled its December meeting and won’t gather again until January. The Cooperative Action Plan is however, continuing to meet and some positive news – the Packard Foundation has donated $700,000 to the CAP. There is also some money in the proposed federal legislation to help CAP with meeting its budget.

Closed Session

The meeting went into closed session at 10:55am with some items about personnel evaluations and a trash can full of litigation matters. Well, I could be wrong and I often are, but I have a pretty good reason to have hope. God knows all about farming and feeding people and turbidity or even climate change doesn’t scare Him. Go be good to each other.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights strives to provide clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights’ clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from DAW entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by WaterWrights.net/DAW

SAN LUIS & DELTA-MENDOTA WATER AUTHORITY was established in January of 1992 and consists of approximately 2,100,000 acres of 29 federal and exchange water service contractors within the western San Joaquin Valley, San Benito and Santa Clara counties. The governing body of the Authority consists of a 19-member Board of Directors classified into five divisions with directors selected from within each division. The main conveyance is the Delta-Mendota Canal that delivers approximately 3,000,000-acre feet of water within the Authority service area. Of this amount, 2,500,000-acre feet are delivered to highly productive agricultural lands, 150,000 to 200,000-acre feet for municipal and industrial uses, and between 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet are delivered to wildlife refuges for habitat enhancement and restoration.

Board – Chairman: Cannon Michael,

Staff – Executive Director: Federico Barajas, COO: Pablo Arroyave, Attorney: Becca Ackroyd, J. Scott Pedersen: Director of Water Policy

Email: youtellus@sldmwa.org 209/826-9696
P.O. Box 2157 Los Banos, CA. 93635

 

Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District December 6, 2022

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By Don A. Wright

The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District held its board of directors meeting at its Farmersville headquarters and GoToMeetings on Tuesday, December 6, 2022. With the ACWA conference in the rearview window and a little rain and snow as well and more precipitation predicted this weekend and next week, this could be a pretty good meeting. Unfortunately Mike Chrisman passed away and that has created a vacancy. Applications closed yesterday and the agenda has the authorization of appointment of a new director as part of today’s meeting.

The Meeting

The meeting began at 9:01am when Chairman Don Mills called things to order. There was no public comment and General Manager Mark Larsen said the state has changed its cooties guideline and while the meeting is still online the directors have to show up. The consent calendar was passed.

The agenda was moved around and RMS Consulting’s Rick Stone gave a cloudseeding presentation. He said cloud seeding started with surplus World War II planes. Stone began with a breakdown of the statistical analysis used in the past. He reminded the board the goal is to make rain and snow. This isn’t a research program but it can help with ASO information.

A portable radiometer is placed in key places at the base of the foothills to monitor air conditions. There is a good deal of restricted military airspace over the area so the flight plan has to be exact. The process is known as orographic cloud seeding. The airplanes target specific parts of the clouds determined by temperature, estimated water content and direction to provide the most moisture nuclei which causes the water to group up and fall.

Stone showed some photos of the planes currently being used. There are times when the windshield is completely iced over and you can’t see out. Doesn’t sound like a fun flight. It makes me think of Patsy Cline. The plane also has flares that can be released. Stone went over some of the mathematical modeling used to determine the impact of the seeding. On average the practice yields an additional 10 percent water supply. But some years that number is much greater and you never know ahead of time. Stone, as you might expect, strongly recommended continuing the program.

One of the directors asked about the shortage of pilots. Stone said the airlines laid off a lot of pilots during the pandemic. These pilots would have to recertify and they didn’t want to. It was also mentioned the airlines were requiring vaccinations and many of the pilots didn’t trust the drugs. There is an indication the vaccine causes blood clots that are amplified by the pressure changes of flight. Another interesting fact is cloud seeding by airplane is heavily concentrated along the Snake River in Idaho to help with hydroelectric generation.

Hannah Ranch

After forty minutes of cloud seeding the agenda shifted again and the Hannah Ranch project was moved up. Dennis Keller wasn’t present and a man named Roger Reynolds of Summers Engineering spoke. He showed photos of gates and gate parts made  in Seattle out of stainless steel. There were other photos of structures resembling the monolith in the movie 2001. This was part of the check structure if I understood correctly. There were problems earlier in the year with High on Speed Rail hogging the available concrete but that has eased up some. The turnout was deemed complete and the board authorized a progress payment. Someone asked Reynolds if there was any danger of theft since the gates were not behind locked gates. It was conceded there could be a possible slow speed theft if the bad guys had a crane, a lowboy and an identical gate structure they could fence it to.

Turns out Keller was there at least his voice was present – it was kind of difficult to see for sure. He reported on the Hannah Ranch Friant Kern Canal turnout. He said that project will be completed before the next meeting in January so the board approved the notice of completion and another progress payment. Keller said some of the problem is additional gates and parts needed for this project are stuck in the supply chain somewhere in China and offshore in Los Angeles. Keller said this is the first project in Kaweah Delta to use this much made in China material as opposed to domestic sources.

Item Four

Mills said Larsen has been serving Kaweah Delta for 20-years this month. Good for him. Mills said there was going to be a slide show of his varying beard length over the years after the meeting.

Larsen spoke about reserve funds and how to maximize returns. The interest rates available for public agency investments isn’t usually all that good. However, a financial consultant named Valley Strong recommended a couple of options that didn’t include the crypto kid in the Bahamas. The board moved a few million here and there to some money markets paying three percent or more. The Local Agency Investment Fund is paying under one percent.

Director Appointment

Larsen said the only application to fill the empty seat was from Eric Shannon. That proved to be an easy appointment and the board agreed.

Water Report

Vic Hernandez, Water Master said there was six inches of water content in the snow from the latest storm and there is more rain expected this week. The inflow on the Kaweah River rose greatly and dropped quickly. So far the cumulative amount is above average. This makes me nervous. You may recall last year we got a lot of precipitation, well above average before New Years and ended up with a dry year. This often happens. However, the higher elevation has been cold, well below freezing so what we have should stick.

Keller reported Friant allocations are static. The state’s share of San Luis Reservoir is still down. There is a heavy rain front hitting the coast between Santa Cruz and Pismo Beach today. How much of that makes it over the Coast Range isn’t known yet. The Friant Kern Canal is down at the moment for repairs and everyone is taking advantage to get any canal related construction completed. The FKC will rewater next month, but on a section by section to accommodate both project completion and supply conveyance.

Director Chris Tantau reported on last month’s Friant retreat. A lot of planning was discussed. The FKC repairs is very on schedule despite the rains. Friant didn’t have a meeting last month the board will meet this Friday. Keller reported on a US Bureau of Reclamation Aging Infrastructure loan. This could save on some significant interest costs over bonds.

King Basin

There is a King Basin being readied for recharge. Staff said the form work is finished and an intake/skateboard ramp has been poured. It’s about 15 acres of recharge along a natural stream channel. Larsen spoke a bit about the Kaweah Oaks Reserve where water was diverted from the creek to meander through the area along natural courses. The creek is called Deep Creek I believe and it is deep with pumps required to move the water to the reserve. In case you are not from this are there are majestic trees but none more so than the Valley Oak. They are glorious. The board was asked to enter into an agreement with the Kaweah Oaks Reserve to allow long term recharge. Tantau asked if KOR is aware of grant requirements and the work that can be completed. Attorney Aubrey Mauritson said, if I heard correctly this is covered in the agreement’s language. Larsen also added the previous recharge has proven to work well with the cattle already grazing in the area. The subsoil has a good mix of sand and clay. The board agreed.

SGMA

Larsen said there are talks about land fallowing or multi-benefit land repurposing. He said things are running a little late but there is a chance it can but up and running as a pilot program in the first part of this year. He said there needs to be more workshops and a few more items to work through. Johnny Gayley from the Delta View Water Association was present and he said the landowners are interested but they need to know more details before they sign up. He said he understands this is a pilot program so things will develop.

Next Meeting & Closed Session

With that Mills pronounced it was time to put a fork in open session at 11:05am. The next meeting will be Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023. There were three cases of anticipated litigation in closed session. Go be good to each other.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide readers and clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete. Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by www.WaterWrights.net/DAW

Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District

2975 N. Farmersville Blvd.
Farmersville, California 93223

559/747-5601                          KDWCD is part or the Greater Kaweah GSA DWR #5-022.11

Email: kaweah@kdwcd.com

www.kdwcd.com

Board of Directors

Don Mills – President, Chris Tantau – Vice-President, Ron Clark, Jimi Valov, Jeff Ritchie & Brian Watte

Management

Mark Larsen, General Manager – mlarsen@kdwcd.com

Terry Stafford, Facilities Manager – tstafford@kdwcd.com

Debbie Vierra, Administrative/HR Coordinator – dvierra@kdwcd.com

Larry Dotson, Senior Engineer – ldotson@kdwcd.com

Shane Smith, Projects/Administrative Manager – ssmith@kdwcd.com

Office and Field Staff
Water Master – Victor Hernandez, Office Assistant – Kathleen Halvorsen

Primary Consultants Dennis Keller – Civil Engineer (Keller/Wegley Consulting Engineers), Aubrey Mauritson – Attorney (Ruddell, Cochran, Stanton, Smith & Bixler, LLP)

From the Kaweah Delta website:

The Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District (KDWCD) was formed in 1927, under the provisions of California state law known as the Water Conservation Act of 1927, for the purpose of conserving and storing waters of the Kaweah River and for conserving and protecting the underground waters of the Kaweah Delta. Later the Water Conservation Act, as well as the purpose of the District, was expanded to include power generation and distribution.

The District is located in the south-central portion of the San Joaquin Valley and lies in portions of both Tulare and Kings Counties. The total area of the District is about 340,000 acres with approximately 255,000 acres located in the western portion of Tulare County and the balance, or 85,000 acres, in the northeastern portion of the Kings County.

The Districts lands are primarily agricultural in nature, although the cities of Visalia and Tulare constitute significant areas of urbanization. Farmersville is the other incorporated area. The population of the District is currently estimated to be in excess of 175,000 people with the principle crops being cotton, misc. field crops, deciduous fruit and nut trees as well as alfalfa.

Numerous public and private entities within the District’s boundaries divert water from the Kaweah River and its distributaries. Nearly all of the lands served with Kaweah River water also are served irrigation water from groundwater, primarily due to the erratic and relatively undependable nature of flow on the Kaweah River. All municipal and industrial water uses within the District are supplied from groundwater.

KDWCD and Tulare Irrigation District (TID), which lies entirely within the boundaries of the Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, has a long-term contract with the federal Central Valley Project (CVP) for water from the Friant Division of the CVP. TID has historically received substantial quantities of CVP water surplus to the demands of the District which augment the Kaweah River supply.

The District and the Kaweah River groundwater basin have experienced long-term groundwater overdraft estimated in 2007 to be as much as 40,000 acre-feet per year. The District has performed multiple studies of groundwater data to determine the extent and volume of groundwater overdraft within its boundaries. There are currently over 40 recharge basins within the District covering approximately 5,000 acres. While KDWCD owns and operates many of these groundwater recharge basins, it does not provide water banking services for others.

 

Regional Board’s Racist Equity Resolution December 2022

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The following is the Central California Regional Waste Water Control Board’s resolution condemning racism by proclaiming the racism of Racial Equity. This is from the Thursday December 8th agenda. Proceedings to begin at 1:00 pm. Click here for a link.

 

CALIFORNIA REGIONAL WATER QUALITY CONTROL BOARD CENTRAL VALLEY REGION

RESOLUTION R5-_________

AFFIRMING THE CENTRAL VALLEY WATER BOARD’S COMMITMENT TO STATE

WATER BOARD RESOLUTION NO. 2021-0050 (RESOLUTION CONDEMNING

RACISM, XENOPHOBIA, BIGOTRY AND RACIAL INJUSTICE AND

STRENGTHENING COMMITMENT TO RACIAL EQUITY, DIVERSITY, INCLUSION,

ACCESS, AND ANTI-RACISM), AND ESTABLISHING WATER QUALITY PROGRAM

GOALS IN SUPPORT OF RACIAL EQUITY

 

WHEREAS, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Central Valley Region

(Central Valley Water Board or Board) finds that:

Affirmation of the Central Valley Water Board’s History and of State Water Board

Resolution No. 2021-0050

  1. The Central Valley Water Board’s jurisdiction includes the most productive

agricultural lands in the world, several of the fastest growing communities in the

Western United States, and growing agricultural, manufacturing, pharmaceutical,

and information technology industries. However, the bounty of the Central Valley has

never been equitably shared by the communities that have contributed to the valley’s

wealth and prosperity.

  1. The Central Valley of California has a legacy stained by a history of racially

exclusive policies, xenophobia, bigotry, and racial injustice. To this day, race

predicts the availability of safe drinking water and the collection, treatment, and

reuse of wastewater. To progress towards a future where race can no longer be

used to predict life outcomes, the Central Valley Water Board must acknowledge

that the Board itself, and the authority that it wields, was established over a

structural framework that perpetuated inequities based on race.

  1. Since 2012, California law (Wat. Code, § 106.3) has declared that every person in

the state has a right to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water. Ensuring that

every person in California has access to clean, safe, and affordable drinking water

requires first acknowledging that many of California’s most critical current water

quality problems find their roots in policies that intentionally disadvantage

communities of color, including a historic lack of investment in drinking water and

wastewater infrastructure within these communities.

  1. The Water Boards are a member of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity

(GARE) and have adopted its definition of racial equity: racial equity occurs when

race can no longer be used to predict life outcomes, and outcomes for all groups are

improved. Because race intersects with many, if not all, other marginalized identities,

prioritizing and addressing racial inequities improves outcomes for all marginalized

communities.

  1. Public Resources Code section 30107.3 defines environmental justice as, “the fair

treatment and meaningful involvement of people of all races, cultures, incomes, and

national origins, with respect to the development, adoption, implementation, and

enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Similarly, the United

States Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as, “the fair

treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color,

national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and

enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be

achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental

and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a

healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.” As used within this document,

environmental justice communities are those communities that have historically

received disparate treatment in the development, implementation, and enforcement

of environmental laws, regulations, and policies based on the race, culture, income,

or national origin of the people living within those communities.

  1. In fall 2020, the State Water Board established a Racial Equity Team, which was

directed to establish a foundation of internal and external engagement that values

listening and collaboration to drive action, draft a resolution on racial equity to be

considered for adoption by the State Water Board, and to develop a subsequent

racial equity action plan to implement the resolution and drive the Water Boards’

efforts to institutionalize racial equity. Central Valley Water Board staff have served

as members of the Racial Equity Working Group since it was established and

continue to be active participants.

  1. On November 16, 2021, the State Water Board adopted Resolution No. 2021-0050,

Condemning Racism, Xenophobia, Bigotry, and Racial Injustice and Strengthening

Commitment to Racial Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Access, and Anti-Racism (State

Water Board Resolution). The State Water Board Resolution acknowledged the role

racism has played in creating inequities in affordability and access to clean and safe

water, committed to advancing racial equity within the Water Boards and the

communities they serve, directed its staff to develop a racial equity action plan, and

encouraged the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards to adopt similar

resolutions.

  1. The Central Valley Water Board, in adopting this Resolution, affirms and endorses

the State Water Board Resolution in its entirety. The Central Valley Water Board

stands with the State Water Board and other Regional Boards and state agencies in

accepting responsibility for confronting structural and institutional racism and

advancing racial equity. This is an obligation shared by all staff, managers, the

Board’s Executive Team, and the Board members themselves.

Description of Portfolio Management Process and

Rationale for Establishing Racial Equity Goals

  1. Following the State Water Board’s adoption of the State Racial Equity Resolution,

the Central Valley Water Board’s Executive Officer convened a Racial Equity

Resolution Team composed of staff and managers drawn from throughout the

Region who expressed an interest in participating in this effort. The regional

resolution was jointly developed by the Racial Equity Resolution Team, executive

management, and the Board’s Program Managers.

10.The Central Valley Water Board has established a Portfolio Management

Framework to create a transparent process where each of the Board’s 19 water

quality programs establish program priorities, allocate limited resources, and ensure

accountability for core work and special projects. The Portfolio Management

Framework specifies roles for the Board’s Executive Management Group, Program

Managers, Senior and Supervisory Managers, and Staff. Under the framework, each

of the water quality programs develops annual workplans based off the State’s fiscal

year (starting July 1), and program priorities are set in a public forum in the

preceding December. The goals set forth in this resolution will be incorporated into

the water quality program annual workplans for FY 22/23 and beyond.

11.The Board will help ensure accountability for the goals set forth in this resolution by

convening a Racial Equity Accountability Team that will periodically meet with the

Board’s Program Managers to assess progress in achieving the Board’s Racial

Equity goals.

12.In October of 2021, the Central Valley Water Board completed a Strategic Plan that

established four strategic objectives that would apply to all the Board’s Programs.

Two of those objectives specified strategies for enhanced engagement with

underserved and underrepresented communities and internal process improvements

to achieve greater efficiency, higher employee engagement, and racial equity. The

Board hereby finds that this resolution is consistent with the strategic objectives

developed and established as part of the Central Valley Water Board’s Strategic

Plan.

13.The goals developed and described herein are intended to be “SMARTIE” goals,

which are goals that are Strategic, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound,

Inclusive, and Equitable.

14.During the pendency of the development of this Resolution, a package of legislative

changes was signed by Governor Newsom creating new obligations to advance

racial equity goals at the State Water Board and at the Regional Boards. Among the

changes brought about by the new legislation, in particular AB 2108, were changes

to the Water Code that require the Boards to conduct “equitable, culturally relevant

community outreach to promote meaningful civil engagement from potentially

impacted communities” for “board planning, policy, and permitting processes.” In

addition, the Water Code now requires Basin Planning activities, Regional Permits,

and Permits that have associated time schedules must include findings “on potential

environmental justice, tribal impacts, and racial equity considerations.” Several of the

Board’s programs will be aligning their resources to meet these obligations.

15.In addition to using translation services provided by the Office of Public Participation,

culturally relevant community outreach can be enhanced when administrative and

technical staff at the Central Valley Water Board are certified in languages spoken

by community members. As the Board strives to conduct engagement that provides

communities with meaningful opportunities to participate in the decisions that will

affect them, the Board will seek opportunities to prioritize multi-lingual proficiencies

at all levels of our organization.

Racial Equity Goals for Water Quality Programs

16.The Central Valley Water Board Permitting Programs:

  1. NPDES Program: The Clean Water Act’s National Pollution Discharge

Elimination System (NPDES) program is a federal program delegated to the

State of California. This program protects beneficial uses by regulating point

source discharges of pollutants to surface waters. Staff resources for the NPDES

Program (25.7 PYs1

) is allocated for permitting (15.4 PYs),

compliance/enforcement (7.8 PYs), and management/support (2.5 PYs).

Racial Equity Goal: The Program will develop a process to broaden contact with

tribal groups when sending out notices for permitting actions, including Draft

Orders and enforcement actions. This will require periodic reviews of mailing lists

to ensure regional and local tribal groups and their representatives receive

notices, as well as a commitment to designate a NPDES permitting staff person

to periodically liaise with the Regional Tribal Liaison and to attend, as necessary,

tribal group meetings.

  1. Waste Discharge to Land Program (Non-15 Program): The Waste Discharge

to Land Program protects groundwater quality by regulating facilities whose

discharges do not fall within the jurisdiction of the federal NPDES Program or

other special permitting programs. This Program is the oldest state water quality

control program, covering wastewater (sewage) treatment facilities, food

processing industries (including wineries), wastewater recycling, sand and gravel

mines, and other industries that discharge non-hazardous wastes. The Program

currently regulates over 1,400 facilities in the Central Valley. There are currently

25 PYs in the Program. Approximately 7 PYs are dedicated for compliance and

enforcement and miscellaneous cleanups, 2 PYs are dedicated to the

wastewater consolidation program, leaving a little over 15 PYs for general

permitting obligations.

Racial Equity Goal: Program staff, working in collaboration with the Board’s

Executive Team and legal counsel, will immediately form a work group to

develop a strategy for enhanced outreach for all regional permitting actions that

meets the requirement under AB 2108 for the Board to conduct “equitable,

culturally relevant community outreach to promote meaningful civil engagement

1 Resources are described as “personnel years” or PYs, which are equivalent to the number of hours a

full-time staff person would work over the course of a year.

from potentially impacted communities” for “board planning, policy, and

permitting processes.” In addition, the work group will also evaluate all General

Orders currently being drafted as well as future permitting activities that will have

associated time schedules (including those that will be undertaken to meet the

requirements of the Nitrate Control Program) and will develop a strategy to

develop findings “on potential environmental justice, tribal impacts, and racial

equity considerations” for these permitting activities.

  1. Water Quality Certifications Program: The Water Quality Certification program

regulates removal or placement of materials in wetlands and waterways in the

state. Examples of such projects include navigational dredging, flood control

channelization, levee construction, channel clearing, fill of wetlands for

development, installation and/or repair of bridge piers and docks, and habitat

restoration projects. These projects generally require a Clean Water Act Section

404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), and the state’s Water

Quality Certification certifies that the projects will be constructed in a manner that

is protective of water quality. The Central Valley Water Board has approximately

13 PYs to implement the program, with resources distributed between the

region’s three offices.

Racial Equity Goal: Program staff will develop a process flow chart that details

the permitting process and enhance noticing for public participation in permitting

processes. Enhanced noticing may include, but will not be limited to, engaging

with tribes beyond currently applicable legal requirements, referencing

CalEnviroScreen or similar tool to better understand cumulative environmental

burdens faced by the communities in which the development subject to the

certification will be occurring, and translating notices into languages spoken by

stakeholders.

  1. Storm Water Program: The Storm Water Program implements NPDES

requirements established by the State Water Board to regulate the discharge of

pollutants in storm water to waters of the U.S. The program is divided into three

main areas of activity: construction (including Caltrans projects), industrial, and

municipal. The permits require implementation of Best Management Practices

(BMPs) and other program elements and controls to minimize the discharge of

pollutants and requires visual and chemical monitoring. Board staff review

monitoring and other program reports, conduct compliance inspections and

audits, and conduct enforcement activities as needed. The Board has 12.75 PYs

to implement the program. Since many of the industrial facilities that are

regulated by the Stormwater Permitting Program are found in disadvantaged

communities and communities of color, much of the work of the Stormwater

Program currently focuses on enforcement within environmental justice

communities.

Racial Equity Goal 1: The Storm Water Program will develop a tool (e.g., table or

map) to help assess and prioritize regulated sites based in part by

CalEnviroScreen scores. Disadvantaged communities (DACs) and Black,

Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities tend to have high

CalEnviroScreen scores and are often overburdened by cumulative effects of

pollution.

Racial Equity Goal 2: Many dischargers regulated by the Storm Water Program

struggle with compliance due to language access barriers. When appropriate,

materials used to help dischargers understand the path to compliance (e.g.,

handouts, power points, webpages, applications, etc.) should be available in

multiple languages. In FY 23/24, program staff will work with State Water Board

staff and other regions and shall review outreach materials and assess which

materials should be available in multiple languages and shall disseminate

translated materials within affected communities.

17.Planning, Monitoring and Assessment Programs

  1. Basin Planning and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Programs: Water

Quality Control Plans or “Basin Plans” provide the foundation for all Central

Valley Water Board regulatory actions. Basin Plans identify beneficial uses of

surface and ground waters, water quality objectives to protect those uses,

implementation actions to achieve objectives, and describe monitoring and

surveillance program to ensure implementation actions are effective. There are

two Basin Plans for the Central Valley Region, one for the Sacramento and San

Joaquin River Basins, and one for the Tulare Lake Basin. The resources for this

program are 9 PYs, 5 PYs of which are allocated to the Central Valley Salinity

Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) Program, 1 PY for the

Tribal Beneficial Uses project, 1 PY for biostimulatory projects and assessments,

and the remaining for program management, permitting support, and other

projects.

Further, Clean Water Act section 303(d) requires States to develop a list of

surface water bodies that do not meet water quality standards (called the 303(d)

list), and to establish programs, such as TMDLs, that will reduce pollutant loading

to achieve water quality standards. In California, TMDLs must include

implementation plans to achieve pollutant load reductions. The TMDL Program

has 9.5 PYs allocated that include 3 PYs for developing the 303(d) list and other

federal water quality reporting and 3 PYs and 2 PYs for Mercury and Pesticide

TMDLs, respectively. The remaining PYs are allocated to program management,

permitting support, staff training and implementation of existing TMDLs.

Racial Equity Goal 1: The Basin Planning Program shall propose, as part of the

triennial review process, a project to update the Basin Plans to add references to

the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool

(CalEnviroScreen) and the State Water Board’s Racial Equity Resolution.

Racial Equity Goal 2: The Program shall continue to prioritize the designation of

tribal beneficial uses within the region, and shall develop processes to conduct,

“equitable, culturally relevant community outreach to promote meaningful civil

engagement from potentially impacted communities” in accordance with the

requirements of AB 2108.

  1. The Delta Program: The objectives of the Delta Program are to improve and

protect water quality in the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta through Central

Valley Water Board actions and coordination with other agencies that include

development and implementation of total maximum daily load control programs

and assessment of data relative to water quality objectives. Actions are guided

by the Central Valley Water Board’s 2014 Delta Strategic Work Plan and the

Delta Nutrient Research Plan. There are 3 PYs allocated to the Delta Program,

mostly allocated to the Delta Regional Monitoring Program and the Delta Nutrient

Research Plan.

Racial Equity Goal 1: The Delta Program will increase and track participation with

disproportionately burdened BIPOC communities impacted by HABs and

nutrients. These efforts will include continuing to develop collaborations and

partnerships with citizen scientists and BIPOC communities and track progress.

Racial Equity Goal 2: The Program will request that the Delta RMP add an EJ

member to the program Board of Directors or Steering Committee by 2024.

Racial Equity Goal 3: Central Valley Board staff will endeavor to use

CalEnviroScreen, and related vulnerability tools developed by the Office of

Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, to create separate data analyses

records when reviewing preliminary and final DRMP data, starting with the

annual report due Feb 1, 2023. These analyses may be considered to inform FY

2023/24 monitoring priorities for the Delta RMP.

  1. Central Valley Salinity Alternatives (CV-SALTS) Program: The Central Valley

Salinity Alternatives for Long-Term Sustainability (CV-SALTS) initiative is a

stakeholder-driven effort that developed a regulatory framework to address

legacy and ongoing salt and nitrate accumulation. In 2018, the Board established

the Salt and Nitrate Control Programs. Implementation of the new nitrate

regulations began in May 2020 and implementation of the new salinity

regulations began in January 2021. The CV-SALTS program has approximately

5 PY dedicated to maintaining and implementing the Nitrate and Salt Control

Programs.

Racial Equity Goal: See ILRP Racial Equity Goal.

  1. Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP): The SWAMP program

was created to coordinate surface water quality monitoring conducted by the

State and Regional Water Boards. The SWAMP program conducts water quality

monitoring directly and through collaborative partnerships, and provides

numerous reports, fact sheets and tools, all designed to support water resource

management in California. SWAMP monitoring projects assess overall water

quality status and trends, identify water quality problems and potential sources,

and evaluate program effectiveness. The SWAMP program has 5 PY shared

between 7 staff in the Rancho Cordova office, 1 staff in the Redding office, and 3

staff in the Fresno office. One of these PYs is dedicated to implementing the

statewide Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom (FHAB) program.

Racial Equity Goal 1: In recognition that many BIPOC/EJ communities within the

Central Valley are reliant on natural swimming places for recreational

opportunities, particularly in hot summer months, collaborate with the State

Water Board on the development of a process to solicit input from community

members on monitoring priorities for the SWAMP Program, including areas

where additional funding is necessary to monitor and protect recreational areas

of high value to EJ communities.

Racial Equity Goal 2: Broaden availability of water quality monitoring data by

translating public-facing map tools into languages spoken by visitors and by

creating a video that explains, in accessible language, how tools such as the E.

coli indicator bacteria maps can be used by the public.

Racial Equity Goal 3: Add measures to internal operating procedures and field

safety documents to enhance protections and support for at-risk staff, including

women and people of color.

  1. Nonpoint Source Program: Nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of

water quality impairments in California. The primary nonpoint sources in the

Central Valley include runoff and percolation from land use activities related to

agriculture, timber harvests, cannabis cultivation, abandoned mines, recreation,

and urban and rural development. This Program works to leverage limited

resources to restore waters impacted by NPS pollution and protect unimpaired

water bodies by assessing problem sources and implementing management

programs consistent with the statewide California Nonpoint Source Program

Implementation Plan for 2020-2025 (Six-Year Implementation Plan). NPS

Program activities funded by federal 319(h) resources are implemented by three

different sections spread across all three offices in the Region. For FY22/23, 3.3

PY are allocated amongst eleven staff positions.

Racial Equity Goal: Identify communities that have suffered disproportionate

socio-economic burdens and racial inequality and advocate for the prioritization

of implementation efforts in the Six-Year Implementation Plan for communities

based on racial equity and environmental justice concerns and promptly prioritize

funding for controlling human health exposure.

18.Administrative Program: The Central Valley Water Board’s Administrative Program

serves to support the Region’s mission, initiatives, and priorities by providing

constant, reliable administrative assistance to our customers, both internally and

externally, while applying the highest standards and ethics. A total of 18 personnel

years (PYs) has been allocated between all three offices in the Central Valley

Region.

Racial Equity Goal: The Central Valley Water Board’s Administrative Program, as

the program most directly responsible for the Region’s efforts to create a more

diverse workforce through recruitment, retention, and advancement, will continue to

coordinate with the State Water Board on the development and implementation of

the State Water Board’s Racial Equity Work Plan.

Racial Equity Goal 2: The program will continue to facilitate training and education of

managerial staff in conducting interviews, with a particular focus on implicit bias and

equity considerations relevant to the Board’s work.

Racial Equity Goal 3: Continue ongoing racial equity training and development for

staff and leadership.

Racial Equity Goal 4: As the Board adapts to a hybrid work environment that is more

dependent on shared spaces rather than individually assigned office space, the

Administrative Program will work to ensure that rooms can be made available to

facilitate affinity groups as well as individual staff persons’ religious and cultural

practices.

19.Special Permitting Programs

  1. Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program: In the Central Valley region, there are

approximately 30,000 irrigated agricultural operations on over 6 million acres of

land. The Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program (ILRP) regulates these operations

to protect beneficial uses of surface and groundwater. Growers who are part of a

third-party group (coalitions) are regulated under one commodity-specific and

seven geographic General Orders. There are 14 coalitions assisting growers

comply with the General Orders. Resources for 18.3 full-time staff are distributed

between the three offices of the Central Valley Water Board.

Racial Equity Goal: The CV-SALTS Program has developed a prioritized Nitrate

Control Program to address nitrate pollution within areas of the region where

communities have been most heavily impacted by nitrate pollution. In Priority I

areas, permittees are working to provide drinking water to affected communities

while nitrate reduction efforts are underway. This involves substantial outreach

efforts, as well as the development and implementation of expansive drinking

water well sampling programs. Meanwhile, the ILRP has developed a drinking

water well sampling program that has, to date, resulted in the sampling of over

11,000 domestic wells on farm parcels. For FY 23/24, the CV-SALTS and ILRP

programs will integrate the domestic well sampling efforts currently being

undertaken by Management Zones under the Nitrate Control Program and those

efforts being undertaken by growers under the ILRP to ensure persons whose

domestic wells are contaminated with nitrates in Priority I areas are provided with

options to obtain free, safe drinking water.

  1. Oil Fields Program: Most California oil production occurs in the Central Valley.

Formation water produced with the oil, known as “produced wastewater,”

comprises the largest volume of waste generated by oil production. Produced

wastewater is typically saline, and disposed of by land application, primarily

ponds, or by underground injection. Some is recycled and reused for irrigation of

crops. Other oil field (OF) wastes include drilling muds, solids, and sludges

generated when tanks and equipment are cleaned. The program employs 23 PY

to regulate produced wastewater disposal to land (ponds) and reuse,

underground injection control (UIC) practices, and well stimulation practices

(SB4) to ensure the protection of water quality.

Racial Equity Goal 1: While most of the OF sites are in remote areas used almost

exclusively for oil and gas production, some are located near residential areas.

Generally, underlying groundwater quality in OF sites is naturally poor and

domestic use water must be brought in from an outside source. Oil Field sites

often have high CalEnviroScreen scores, driven by multiple factors (e.g., air and

water quality). In FY 23/24, program staff will assess which sites are in proximity

to residential areas and compare these areas to CalEnviroScreen scores and

identify sites for program work prioritization. Even where impacts to drinking

water are not a program consideration, prioritizing work (e.g., closing ponds,

ensuring site compliance, enforcing best practices) can help lower a

CalEnviroScreen score, and positively impact communities situated near

program sites, many of which are DACs or BIPOC communities.

Racial Equity Goal 2: In addition to this, program staff will work to increase

outreach to DACs and BIPOC communities. A part of this outreach will be for

program staff to host informational meetings, where staff will broadly discuss

work being done in the OF program. In FY 23/24, OF program staff will begin

planning meetings, with a general goal of holding two meetings in FY 24/25.

  1. Land Disposal Program: The Land Disposal Program regulates the land

discharge of solid and liquid wastes to prevent water quality impacts. These

wastes include municipal solid waste, hazardous wastes, designated wastes

(such as petroleum-impacted soils), and nonhazardous and inert solid wastes. In

general, these wastes cannot be discharged directly to the ground surface

without impacting groundwater or surface water and, therefore, they must be

contained at facilities that prohibit the wastes from migrating to groundwater. The

facilities are regulated pursuant to Title 27 (nonhazardous wastes) or Chapter 15

of Title 23 of the California Code of Regulations (hazardous wastes). A total of

14.26 PYs are allocated to the program with 6.00 PYs directed to compliance

and enforcement activities and 8.26 to permitting.

Racial Equity Goal 1: In prioritizing permit renewals, consider impacts that

facilities may be having on local communities by incorporating EnviroScreen

score into prioritization matrix.

Racial Equity Goal 2: Preceding permit renewals and revisions, site cleanup staff

will be proactive on requiring dischargers/ consultants create fact sheets that

include environmental burdens. Using EnviroScreen census data, the fact sheet

can be translated into different languages accordingly. A three-year goal is set to

provide the framework for language translation of factsheets.

  1. Confined Animal Facilities Program: The Central Valley is home to a variety of

agricultural operations that rely on animals (cows, steers, sheep, goats, pigs, and

poultry). Confined Animal Facilities (CAFs) are ranches where livestock are held

and provided food for a significant part of the time, as opposed to grazing, where

livestock eat forage that grows in pastures or rangeland. Most CAFs in the

Central Valley are dairies. There are also a significant number of feedlots (beef

cattle and support stock for dairies) and poultry facilities. There are 12 PY

working full time in the CAF Program, supplemented by 3 other staff with a

percentage of their time dedicated to the Program, for a total of about 14 PYs.

Racial Equity Goal: The Board’s 2013 Dairy General Order is currently being

reviewed by the State Water Board in response to a water quality petition filed by

environmental and environmental justice organizations. It is expected that the

State Water Board will remand the 2013 Dairy General Order to the Central

Valley Water Board for reconsideration in 2023. In FY 23/24, this program will be

tasked with developing a revised Dairy General Order and will ensure that

development of this order includes “equitable, culturally relevant community

outreach to promote meaningful civil engagement from potentially impacted

communities.” The revised order will also include findings that consider impacts

on potential environmental justice, tribal impacts, and racial equity considerations

that shall be developed in collaboration with affected communities.

  1. Mines Program: Central Valley Water Board staff have identified 106 mine sites

with features known to, or that have the potential to, impact water quality. This is

a subset of the 47,000 abandoned mine sites with physical and/or environmental

hazards identified throughout California by the Department of Conservation. Most

mine sites regulated by the Central Valley Water Board are closed and

abandoned mines that have not operated for decades, at a minimum, with some

mines inactive for more than 100 years. During FY 22/23, a total of 6.8 PY has

been allocated towards Mines Program oversight, of which 5.25 PY is directed

towards permitting, compliance and enforcement.

Racial Equity Goal: Program staff will prioritize mine cleanup or oversight in

consideration of threat to water quality and disproportionate environmental

burdens faced by disadvantaged communities and tribes. Each mine project

selected for the racial equity goal in the Mines FY 23/24 Workplan will require the

development of individual action plans because of their unique and often

complex site characteristics causing or contributing to water quality impairments.

Individual action plans will be developed and implemented through enhanced

public outreach and tribal engagement. Each project will include a succinct

summary that describes opportunities for public participation and provides

updates regarding project progress.

  1. Cannabis Program: The Central Valley Water Board’s Cannabis Regulatory

Program regulates waste discharges associated with cannabis cultivation and

related ground disturbance activities. The Program is implemented through the

Principals and Guidelines for Cannabis Cultivation (Policy) and the statewide

Cannabis Cultivation General Order. Board staff engage in coordinated multiagency efforts for permitting actions, compliance inspections, and if necessary,

targeted enforcement actions against cultivators who fail to comply with

permitting requirements. Cannabis Regulatory Program staff regularly coordinate

with the Department of Cannabis Control, California Department of Fish and

Wildlife, local regulatory agencies, and state and local law enforcement agencies.

The Central Valley Water Board’s Cannabis Regulatory Program is currently

supported by 7 PY in technical staff and 1.5 PY managerial staff.

Racial Equity Goal: Translate important information, including the implementation

of best management practices, into languages other than English to increase

awareness of the regulatory program among BIPOC communities, including

within counties where cannabis cultivation may still be banned. Translate

module-by-topic presentations into Spanish by the end of 2023.

  1. Forest Activities Program: California’s forested lands produce most of the

state’s highest quality waters. However, activities in forested lands can lead to

non-point source pollution, the leading cause of water quality impairments in

California, if not properly mitigated. The Forest Activities Program focuses

regulatory efforts and grant funding on land use and restoration activities across

16 million acres of federal and non-federal lands within the Central Valley

Region. The Forest Activities Program has 17 PY across all three offices.

Racial Equity Goal: Conduct staff training on CalEnviroScreen tools by the end of

  1. Staff will consider CalEnviroScreen, and related vulnerability tools

developed by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in

prioritizing work near vulnerable communities. Where appropriate, staff will

conduct “equitable, culturally relevant community outreach to promote

meaningful civil engagement from potentially impacted communities” in

connection with the adoption of the Federal Permit. Make findings within the

Federal Permit consistent with the requirements of AB 2108.

20.Enforcement and Cleanup Programs

  1. Compliance and Enforcement Program: The State Water Resources Control

Board and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards protect the waters of

the state by ensuring compliance with clean water laws and taking enforcement

actions when violations occur. The Water Boards have authority under the Water

Code to regulate and enforce any activity or factor that may affect the quality of

the waters of the state. The Water Boards’ compliance and enforcement actions

are guided by the State Water Board’s 5 October 2017 Enforcement Policy. 57

PYs work in C/E (14 PYs in Fresno; 12 PYs in Redding; and 31 PYs in

Sacramento).

Racial Equity Goal 1: The State Water Board’s Racial Equity Resolution found

that violations of clean water laws and regulations disproportionately impact

DACs/ BIPOC communities. Although the Enforcement Program currently

prioritizes sites based on whether violations have the potential to impact a source

of drinking water, or a source of water used by a Tribal Nation, during FY 23/24,

program staff will also assess how violations impact DACs and communities of

color using tools, including CalEnviroScreen.

Racial Equity Goal 2: Program staff will include a tally of high CalEnviroScreen

score sites receiving formal enforcement in quarterly Executive Officer’s reports.

The Enforcement Program will continue to prioritize Class A priority violations

which are those violations that potentially pose an immediate and substantial

threat to beneficial uses and/or that have the potential to cause significant

detrimental impacts individually or cumulatively to human health or the

environment. When appropriate, Executive Officer’s reports may also include

summary statements about specific sites, and how these violations impact DACs/

BIPOC communities, and the enforcement actions taken.

  1. Site Cleanup Program: The Site Cleanup Program (SCP) regulates and

oversees the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites. Staff overseeing

investigation and cleanup actions at sites that have been impacted by releases of

pollutants to soil, soil gas, groundwater, surface water, sediments, and indoor air.

SCP sites include large industrial facilities, military bases, oil refineries, factories,

and smaller facilities such as dry cleaners and plating shops. Many properties

are in urban areas and environmental justice communities and cleanup often

results in contaminant removal, reduced impact to water and economic growth.

The types of pollutants encountered at SCP sites are diverse and include

fertilizers, heavy metals, solvents, and many others. 30 PY are divided amongst

the regulatory oversight of Private, Military, and Department of Energy (D.O.E.)

sites.

Racial Equity Goal 1: Program management will ensure that program staff have

been trained on the availability and use of GeoTracker tools and layers

presenting CalEnviroScreen scores and demographics of communities

surrounding SCP sites. Using these tools, SCP staff will record the

CalEnviroScreen scores and GeoTracker site status to evaluate cleanup

progress relative to burdened communities.

Racial Equity Goal 2: Site Cleanup and UST program staff, in collaboration with

the State Water Board’s Office of Public Participation, will develop revisions to

public outreach guidelines to incorporate “equitable, culturally relevant

community outreach to promote meaningful civil engagement” from those

communities where remedial action plans and site closures are going to be

considered by the Board, consistent with the requirements of AB 2108.

  1. Underground Storage Tank (UST) and Aboveground Storage Tank (AST)

Program: The Underground Storage Tank (UST) and Aboveground Storage

Tank (AST) Program address leak prevention, oversight of leaking underground

tank cleanups, and reimbursement to responsible parties conducting cleanups.

Board staff is primarily involved with the oversight of cleanups. Currently, Board

staff is actively directing the cleanup work at approximately 289 leaking

underground tank sites. Since inception of the program, over 3,000 UST releases

have been investigated, remediated, and closed at the direction of the Board.

Racial Equity Goal 1: Develop a means of prioritizing efforts to move stalled

cases toward closure where cases are located within environmental justice

communities.

Racial Equity Goal 2: Site Cleanup and UST program staff, in collaboration with

the State Water Board’s Office of Public Participation, will also develop revisions

to public outreach guidelines to incorporate “equitable, culturally relevant

community outreach to promote meaningful civil engagement” from those

communities where remedial action plans and site closures are going to be

considered by the Board, consistent with the requirements of AB 2108. Specific

to the UST program, outreach efforts shall acknowledge that a large percentage

of UST/gas station sites are owned and operated by the South Asian community,

and therefore “culturally relevant community outreach” will include language

assistance will be provided in languages spoken by this community.

Regulatory Findings

21.Public Notice: The Central Valley Water Board provided notice of its intention to

consider this matter at a public meeting and provided an opportunity for interested

persons to comment on the tentative resolution and its attachments. The draft

resolution and its attachments were mailed to the interested persons and regulatory

agencies and posted on the Board’s website.

22.34.Public Hearing: The Central Valley Water Board, at a public meeting, heard and

considered all comments pertaining to this matter.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT the California Regional Water Quality Control

Board, Central Valley Region, adopts the goals for inclusion in Programmatic Workplans

for FY 23/24 and beyond.

I, Patrick Pulupa, Executive Officer, do hereby certify that the foregoing is a full, true,

and correct copy of a resolution adopted by the California Regional Water Quality

Control Board, Central Valley Region, on _____ 2022.

[Signature block]

Tom Birmingham; Reflections on Westlands December 5, 2022

0

By Don A. Wright

Fortunes are made and lost on the weather. In 1588 Spain went to attack England and a storm wiped out its armada. The loss was so devastating even with its New World holdings Spain never again arose to its former place of prominence as the greatest European power. From 1930 to 1936 a drought centered in the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles caused 2.5 million people to leave the center of the country for other parts.

And while bad weather can lead to major problems, what about the good weather? California is blessed with a Mediterranean climate. Hot summers, cool but not frozen winters, plenty of sunshine and good soil. And due to the foresight of others since gone, California’s fickle water supply has been harnessed for the beneficial use of us all. Part of the infrastructure created to manage this resource are the water and irrigation districts. Both are considered special districts and subparts of the state government. The directors elected take the same oath as the President of the United States. The difference between the two types of districts is a matter of governance. In general, irrigation districts require residency to vote and hold a seat on their boards. Water districts require landownership to vote and hold a seat on their boards. However, the votes are weighted by amount of acreage owned and a director can serve as a proxy for an entity, whether privately held or a corporation.

Westlands and Birmingham

Formed in 1952 the largest water district in the nation is more than 600,000 acre Westlands Water District on the westside of the San Joaquin Valley. The longest serving General Manager at WWD has been Tom Birmingham, who is retiring at the end of December after 22-years in that position. I had the opportunity to sit and have an online talk with Birmingham on a recent, dark Friday afternoon as the rain began to fall.

What struck me most was how relaxed Birmingham was away from the often high pressured public view of a public agency trying to supply water to its constituents. The interview was supposed to be for a half hour but went on for an hour and a half. It’s often observed those who depend on irrigation love the rain as much as ducks, so the rain brought about an improved mood for all of us. I asked him part way through our talk about his schedule being so open. He told me he wasn’t at the Association of California Water Agencies conference then going on, so he had a relatively rare, flexible afternoon.

It is no secret Birmingham’s retirement coincides with four new board members taking office. These new directors have expressed their desire for a change in management. As mentioned at the beginning of this report – weather plays a massive role in events from a global to a personal scale. Had nature provided rain and the man made regulations allowed it to be used for the past three or four years, who knows if Birmingham would be leaving Westlands at the end of the year?

Birmingham and Westlands itself can be a lightening rod in California’s contentious water world. Love him or hate him, you can’t make the label of coward stick to Birmingham. He didn’t shy away from addressing the timing of his retirement. “I want to reduce conflict,” he said. “I remember  Mike Stearns [President Firebaugh Canal Water District] observing at a meeting of westside water agencies that agricultural irrigators in the Valley need to stop fighting amongst themselves and work together on common objectives. That resonated with me.  I’m leaving now because if I were to remain at Westlands it would create conflict on the board, which is never a good thing. And it would distract from pursuing solutions to the problems water users face.” Fair enough.

He feels he still has a few good, productive years left and shared he’s received two job offers. Several law firms, agencies and consultant firms have told him they’d like to have a talk before he carves anything in stone. He said he has been gratified by the outreach and amount of well wishes he’s received. He said he won’t be entertaining any offers until after his retirement is official and hopes to take a little time off. However, he keeps talking himself into shortening that time frame. “Maybe I’ll write a book,” he said.

It will be a transition requiring abrupt change. “I haven’t taken off work for more than three consecutive days since 1983,” said Birmingham. He jokes he works half time, only 12-hours per day. I asked him what that entailed and he said in addition to meeting primarily on water policy he usually spends four to five hours per day reading reports and such, mostly in the evening.

It’s been said more than once Birmingham’s leaving Westlands will generate a significant gap in institutional knowledge. He’s well versed in far more than just Westlands. You can include the Bay Delta Accord, the Voluntary Agreements and developments on the Colorado River as areas he holds expertise in. Having situational awareness is a must have in California water. For instance, if Southern California loses supplies from the Colorado River that could trigger increased competition for North of Delta supplies, the same source as Westlands.

Starting Out

Birmingham was born and grew up in Yreka, Siskiyou County California. His mother was extremely influential in his career choices.

“She was a child of the depression and didn’t have many opportunities for higher education,” Birmingham recalled. “Her grandfather was a judge in Michigan and she wanted one of her children to be a lawyer. There was only one judge in Yreka. From about the third grade on, if there was a particularly interesting trial being conducted my mother would take me out of school and we’d go watch the trial.”

By the time he graduated from Yreka High School he felt he had developed some analytical skills and chose UCLA because its political science department was ranked second only to Harvard. It was a common belief poli sci was a good course of study in preparation for law school. He didn’t realize all the accolades for this program were based on UCLA’s graduate program. However he did well and after graduating with a four year degree he moved to Sacramento. When asked why he said, “Usual reason. There was a girl involved.”

After working a couple of years he enrolled at McGeorge Law School and earned his law degree. He found a job with the firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard in Sacramento and in a relatively short time made partner.

The firm was an ideal landing place for Birmingham. Stanley Kronick and Adolph Moskovitz first met in 1950 while working as staff attorneys for the US Bureau of Reclamation. In 1959 they founded the eponymous firm. They took on the complexity of law involving water and government issues including public agency law.

Moskovitz took an interest in Birmingham, “The highest compliment I’ve ever received came from Adolph. He had very high standards and as he was winding down his practice he had enough confidence in my legal ability to make me responsible for his major clients, including Westlands.”

Birmingham started working with Westlands in 1986 as outside counsel. By 1995 he became the general counsel for Westlands. In 2000 the former General Manager Dave Orth resigned and Birmingham was offered the position.

General Manager

One of the questions I asked Birmingham was – what advice do you have for whoever follows you? He said it wouldn’t be appropriate to give managerial advice to whomever takes his place. But he did offer some personal advice, “Don’t let the job consume you,” said Birmingham. “Keep an appropriate balance in your personal and  professional life.”

He told me when he first became GM he would work at least two-days a week in the Fresno office and have monthly staff meetings. He quickly discovered something about Westlands organizational set up. At the end of the meetings he would give his direction and staff would often turn to then Assistant GM Dave Ciapponi and ask is that alright. Birmingham laughed saying to Ciapponi’s credit, “Dave was always astute and too gracious to contradict me in front of everyone.”

But the experience soon taught him to delegate responsibility as the staff was extremely capable and talented. He believes the current staff carries out that tradition naming a few of the many people he works with and gives credit to: Jose Gutierrez, Russ Freeman, Bobbie Ormonde, Kiti Campbell and Jon Rubin and the list goes on.

Birmingham also realized his role was to engage in policy and leave the day to day management to the district’s professional managers. He also learned a lesson from Orth who had a young family while working as Westlands’ GM. Birmingham recalled Orth lived in the Fresno Area and made it a priority to be home. He said Orth about wore himself out traveling back and forth from Sacramento. Birmingham located his family in Sacramento and saved himself the stress of attempting omnipresence. “The job of Westlands General Manager is a lot more political than day to day hands on management,” Birmingham observed.

Controversy

The Edleman Trust Barometer declared 2021 the year of media trust bankruptcy with fewer than half of all Americans trusting the mainstream media sources. Westlands has long been a target for local, state and national news organizational bias.

One particularly egregious example that comes to mind is a 2019 piece by the San Jose Mercury News editorial board calling on readers to submit negative comments about Westlands’ contract conversion for its Central Valley Project agreements. Amongst other things the Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act (WIIN Act) allowed CVP water contractors to convert their contracts to a new agreement allowing a quicker payoff for money owed the government. That’s right, the farmers have been and continue to pay for irrigation infrastructure projects like Shasta and Folsom Dams, the Delta Mendota Canal, the San Luis Reservoir and the Jones Pumping Plant near Tracy. Despite reports to the contrary irrigation infrastructure isn’t just on the backs of the taxpayers.

The ability to convert contracts approved by Congress to accelerate repaying capital cost, a bookkeeping act that had nothing to do with water delivery. But the Mercury News and other large daily papers actually predicted dire results for endangered species. What was even more telling was at the same time the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the district that supplies San Jose and Silicon Valley with water, was applying for the same contract conversion offered in the WIIN Act – which by the way was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016, another fact not mentioned in the Mercury News’ editorial.

I was curious as to Birmingham’s take on Westlands’ treatment in the press. He said whenever the press writes something negative about Westlands the district is bombarded with Public Record requests which keeps the district on its toes when it comes to following law and procedure.

Birmingham said he’s never understood the basis of Westlands reputation other than its size. He also believes if more people knew the history of Westlands and where it is today, they’d realize just how progressive the district is. At one time most the land in current day Westlands was owned by four companies: Standard Oil, Southern Pacific Railroad, Anderson Clayton Cotton and JG Boswell Farms.

Originally growers were limited to 160 acres of land which created a problem for economy of scale and profitability. In 1982 Congressman George Miller authored federal legislation to increase the limit to 960 acres. Today the district has thousands of landowners and more than 650 farming operations growing than $2 billion worth of crops annually and support 35,000 jobs in the area.

One of the biggest problems Westlands has had to deal with is the infamous Kesterson Wildlife Refuge. The San Luis Unit of the CVP infrastructure was supposed to include the San Luis Drain, a way to move excess water and salts out of the area to the Delta and eventually to the sea. Construction on the drain began in the south and headed north. Like California’s High Speed Rail it followed the path of least resistance and the US Bureau of Reclamation halted construction east of Gustine in Merced County creating a wetlands that was never intended to be. Selenium is a trace element that occurs naturally in the soils on the eastern slope of the Diablo Range that defines the San Joaquin Valley’s western edge. Storm and irrigation drain water containing selenium would enter the San Luis Drain and end up concentrating at Kesterson. In proper amounts selenium is vital to our health. The National Institute of Health states selenium is an antioxidant and helps prevent cancer and heart disease. Selenium is added to salt blocks used in animal nutrition on the Valley’s eastside. But in concentrated amounts selenium can cause deformities in waterfowl such as those nesting at Kesterson.

Lawsuits about San Luis Unit drainage have been ongoing since 1963 and the drainage to Kesterson was closed in 1986. Farming did not create selenium – it’s not a byproduct of cotton. Westlands didn’t create and then stop short of completing the San Luis Drain, but the district has been blamed for and associated with the federally created problem. This bias hits a nerve with Birmingham.

“Westlands is one of the most progressive districts in the country,” said Birmingham. “From the beginning Westlands has understood the importance of water conservation. Since 1965 our distribution is through pressurized pipe and that’s been copied around the world.”

Birmingham said to his knowledge Westlands is the only irrigation district distributing water exclusively through a closed, underground system. It’s also the only district retiring land at its own expense to save water and create renewable solar energy. He is also proud of the district’s tidal marsh habitat restoration taking place in the Delta.

He pointed to Woolf Farm as an example of a family business, “They have thousands of acres on the westside but that family is out there working the land everyday. And Westlands farmers are one of the most philanthropic groups you’ll find.”

Birmingham said other government agencies always ask him why Westlands gets such a bad rap after they find it is in fact a competent and easy to work with organization. He’s proud of what the district’s farmers can do.

“Westlands is the most productive farming region in the State. Soil conditions and the climate are ideal. In California the average almond crop yield is what 2,400 to 2,500 pounds per acre? In Westlands if a farmer gets sufficient water it’s not unusual for them to produce 4,000 pounds per acre. There is not a finer group of people than Westlands farmers,” said Birmingham.

Accomplishments & Regrets?

Of course I had to ask Birmingham about his highlights and if he had any regrets. He said what stands out most to him was when he had a conversation with the President of the United States. There was a meeting held in Fresno when Obama and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack were passing through. One representative each from an environmentalist organization, the United Farm Workers and Birmingham were invited to share comments with the President.

“After that meeting I was accused by some of having a man-crush on President Obama,” said Birmingham. He explained, “At the beginning of the meeting the President made some comments to the press. After the press left an attorney from an environmental group, a member of the United Farm Workers and I each shared our perspectives with the President. At the end of these comments the President turned to me and we had a 20-minute dialog about water supply issues. President Obama was among the most intelligent people I’ve ever met. And he was certainly the most charismatic. I could never had imagined as part of my job I would have the opportunity to have a substantive discussion with the President of the United States. That meeting was the highlight of my career.”

Birmingham added, “I don’t know if it was in any way connected to that meeting, but after the meeting, presidential appointees in the Department of the Interior began having detailed discussions with a bi-partisan groups of Senators and Representatives about more effective, efficient ways of protecting fish and delivering water.  Many of the actions that were the subject of those discussions ultimately made their way into the WIIN Act.”

In fact passage of the WIIN Act was another high point for Birmingham. He said he Westlands staff worked relentlessly with representatives from both sides of the aisle in the House, the Senate and other public water agencies to get that legislation passed. He also points to the Voluntary Agreements as a significant development. He said he would have liked to stay around until that is completed.

I asked him what he saw in the Voluntary Agreements and he said there are components that work for the people, the environment and agriculture. He said the VAs will protect operational flexibility for the projects, enhance the ecosystem with functional flows, and “. . . employ a robust adaptive management program, and provide regulatory certainty for at least eight years, and hopefully beyond.”

I asked him, “Really? Haven’t we heard that before?” He said yes, the Bay Delta Accords promised some good things too, but then Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbit pulled the rug out from everyone. Birmingham is taking a fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, attitude towards the VAs. He said the attorneys working on the documents to memorialize the VAs can draft adequately protective language and the state is more motivated to make the VAs.

I asked him if he had a magic wand what would he change and he said, “I would want a comprehensive program that would addresses all the factors affecting the abundance of species in impacting the Delta that achieves a reasonable balance among competing uses of water. As species abundance has continued to decline, the practice has been to further constrain operations of the projects, but the projects are only one of numerous factors that limit species abundance.

“If we are serious about protecting the viability of native fish species, we have to begin to address all of the factors that limit their abundance. In addition, I would want all uses of water, including environmental uses, held to the same standards of reasonableness and beneficial use. If water dedicated to the environment is not achieving the desired result, modify that use of that water. They keep placing restriction after restriction on operations of the projects, and it hasn’t fixed anything.  We should not believe that maintaining that course will result in a different outcome.”

At the end Birmingham said he believes Westlands has some strong assets to bear on the next part of its journey. “I’ve told you about how great the district’s growers are. I’m also incredibly proud of the employees and management team now in place. They’re the most capable, professional staff in the business.”

I asked Birmingham if he had any regrets. He paused a moment then said, “I sometimes wish I’d prepared differently. I wonder if I would have been better served by studying of civil engineering, rather than political science, as an undergraduate. But then I might have ended up an engineer somewhere, doing something else. I wouldn’t want that. Looking back, I would not have wanted any other job, any other career than the one I’ve had at Westlands.”

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by www.WaterWrights.net/DAW

Our Food Supply at Risk December 1, 2022

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Publisher’s note: We often hear how growing certain crops is a waste of water. There are calls from the enviro and other “communities” to do away with current farming practices. A major Southern California daily newspaper even ran an editorial advocating the state government dictate where certain crops can be grown. The plan was to save water by only allowing almonds to be grown in the Sacramento Valley. I’ve been told by farmers it actually takes more water to grow the same number of almonds further north of the San Joaquin Valley. One also has to ask how well it turned out for Georgia and Ukraine when the USSR tried that.

Of course there was a presidential candidate from New York City!!! who made the famous remark about farming. Remember? “I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” Michael Bloomberg said. “It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn.”

Alfalfa is a favorite whipping boy for the anti-agriculture crowd. Hay is too low value, it uses too much water. It is discouraging to hear the constant drum beat from nonfarmers about how, when and where to conduct agribusiness and farming. Take heart, there are those speaking out with informed voices against the incorrect assumptions put forth from folks who evidently don’t care about our food supply. And alfalfa is a primary contributor to that supply. The following is a press release from the Family Farm Alliance and the California Farm Water Coalition.

White Paper on the Importance of Alfalfa Production in the American West

With drought conditions continuing to blanket the Western U.S., and farmers struggling to find adequate water supplies, competing interests are pressuring the federal government to cut the water supply farmers are using to grow our food, including alfalfa, which is a foundational food chain crop.

In response, the Family Farm Alliance and California Farm Water Coalition have produced a White Paper titled, Our Food Supply at Risk; The Importance of Alfalfa Production in the American West,” detailing the valuable role alfalfa plays as a principal feed source for the nation’s livestock and diary industries, its environmental benefits, and contribution to effective drought management.

“You’ve got to . . . keep listening to the farmers, because ultimately, you don’t want to get to the point of creating a food crisis to solve a water crisis.”

Family Farm Alliance Executive Director, Dan Keppen, said reducing the acreage devoted to alfalfa may seem like an easy fix to save water, but a decision to do so has bigger ramifications for our nation’s food supply.Technoflo

“Alfalfa is grown as livestock feed for the beef and dairy industries, both of which contribute to a balanced diet, including high protein foods, such as beef, milk, and milk products, such as yogurt, butter, cheese, ice cream, and cottage cheese,” said Keppen. “At a time when consumers are facing record inflation and sticker shock every time they to go to the grocery store, it makes no sense to aggravate the problem and drive prices even higher by cutting out a vital component of our food supply.”

Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, said that Arizona and California lead the nation in per-acre production of alfalfa.

“With crop yields that are double the per-acre yields in most other states, the ability to make-up lost production from Arizona and California is very unlikely, which would lead to shortages, higher feed costs for producers, and the loss of more family farms when so many are already struggling,” he said.

The report outlines many of the additional benefits that come from alfalfa production, including enhanced soil health because of deep rooting and the nitrogen alfalfa naturally adds to the soil during its growth cycle. This reduces the amount of chemical fertilizers that have to be used to grow crops that follow alfalfa during crop rotation.

Alfalfa also contributes to the health of pollinators, such as bees, when it grows because of the crop’s prolific flower production. Bees use alfalfa for honey production, more of which comes from alfalfa farms than any other source in the U.S.

And alfalfa is an efficient water user, producing a crop year-round in warmer climates, but is also able to survive droughts as well as intentional “dry down” to make water available for other so-called high-value crops, including fruits, nuts, and vegetables, that face drought-driven water shortages.

Keppen presented the report as part of his remarks to the World Alfalfa Congress Symposium on November 14-17 at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego. Wade presented the report as part of his remarks to the Columbia Basin Development League Conference on November 17 in Moses Lake, Washington.

The California Farm Water Coalition is a non-profit, educational organization that provides fact-based information on farm water issues to the public.

The Family Farm Alliance is a powerful advocate before the government for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in 17 Western states to ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water needed to produce the world’s food, fiber, and fuel.

More notes from the publisher: This white paper is well worth your time to read. It’s only 14-pages, four of the  pages are charts and a handy reference; and amply illustrates the very current and real threat to ag in the Western United States due to the Colorado River situation. Recounted in the report is water managers from Las Vegas, Nevada criticized alfalfa as a water waster before hearings in Washington DC. What is it with that town? There is an estimated 2.2 million people in Southern Nevada. Moses led millions into the desert also but they had a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night to guide them. Las Vegas has fountains shooting water hundreds of feet into the searing desert air.

Another fact brought out in this white paper – it may take a gallon of water to grow an almond but it takes 10-gallons to make a computer chip. How many of these critics are willing to do without a cell phone to save water? How do without butter, cheese, yogurt, milk, hamburgers or a good steak? Alfalfa is not a monster plant, some kind of giant, carnivorous flytrap grown by Morticia Adams. It’s foundational to our food and economic wellbeing.

Time to get off the defense and start swinging back with some common sense based on reality. This paper does that. Spoiler alert – the last paragraph of the paper sums it all up.  “IID [Imperial Irrigation District] General Manager Enrique Martinez said it best in a recent interview with the Desert Sun, ‘You’ve got to . . . keep listening to the farmers, because ultimately, you don’t want to get to the point of creating a food crisis to solve a water crisis.’”

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties

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An Alternative to Worrying About The Tragedy of the Commons November 28, 2022

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By Paul H. Betancourt

For over forty years environmental policy has been driven by the idea of the Tragedy of the Commons. In 1968 UC Santa Barbara professor Garret Hardin wrote a piece for Science magazine outlining his concerns about population growth. The population bomb was a huge issue at the time.

Hardin used the image of the English common pastures to illustrate that what is held in common can be used by individuals for personal gain and the possibility of plunder in the process. Hardin’s followers have used the idea of the Tragedy of the Commons, for decades now, as the rationale for government control of natural resources.

There is an alternative. Dr. Elinor Ostrum was the co-winner of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Economics for her work showing how to harness private use of natural resources for more effective management.Brandt

We have learned the wrong lesson from the Tragedy of the Commons – What is owned by all is cared for by none. Which would you rather use, a restroom in a public park, or a restroom in a private business? Me too. Restrooms in public parks are usually pretty nasty. Why? Because what is owned by all is cared for by none.

Ostrum’s work focuses on Common Pool Resources (CPR’s), and the government institutions to manage these resources.Phytech

Ostrum’s work is not limited to the Western world or merely to our time. In her 1990 book Governing the Commons she also studies institutions that manage Common Pool Resources in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Turkey and Japan. She also studies groundwater management in Southern California in the 1960’s as well as historic irrigation management in Spain and historic timber management in Switzerland. Ostrum’s conclusion is there are significant structures and policies that can be entered in to voluntarily by resource entrepreneurs. These agreements can be monitored internally and/or by governments.Conterra

Ostrum’s “Design Principles and Institutional Performances” for successful use of Common Pool Resources include three key considerations;

Clear boundaries and memberships-individuals or households who have rights to withdraw resource units from the CPR must be clearly defined, as must the boundaries of the CPR itself.Technoflo

Congruent roles-Congruence between appropriation and provision rules and local conditions Appropriation rules restricting time, place, technology and/or quantity of resource units are related to local conditions and to provision rules requiring labor, material and or money.Northwest Pipe Company

Collective choice arrangements– Most individuals affected by the operational rules can participate in modifying the operational rules.

Betancourt is a semi-retired farmer based in Kerman, California. He currently he teaches political science part time at Fresno State University and has taught at Fresno City College and the University of Phoenix. Betancourt served on the Central Valley Regional Water Board (2005-2008). His book, Ten Reasons; Finding Balance on Environmental Issues, was published in 2012. His other books include This Week on the Farm: Stories About a Boy, His Dog and His Truck, and a book on local history, Images of America: Kerman.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

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Welcome Paul Betancourt November 23, 2022

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Hello everyone. We here at WaterWrights.net are proud to introduce to you our newest opinion editorial writer, Paul Betancourt. In our opinion Paul is a type of agrarian renaissance man. He brings just the right amount of intellect and empathy and weaves them into a wisdom learned from both books and working the land. We look forward to reprinting and publishing his work.

Paul is a semi-retired farmer. For 38 years he was managing Partner of VF Farms, his family farming operation based in Kerman, CA.  Recent crops grown on include cotton, Pima cotton, almonds, tomatoes, barley, sugar beets, cantaloupes, and wheat. Currently he teaches political science part time at Fresno State.Conterra

Paul has also written a monthly column on agriculture and urban issues for the Fresno Business Journal.  Paul’s community involvement includes: Kerman Unified School Board; Fresno County Farm Bureau (President, 2000-2002); Kerman Covenant Church; Kerman Community Food Bank (Co-Founder); Valley Clean Air Now Board ; San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District-Community Advisory Committee; National Cotton Council delegate; Fresno County Trustees Association; California School Board Association; and Central Valley Regional Water Board (2005-2008).

Paul received a BA in Religious Studies from Westmont College, a second major in Agricultural Business from Fresno State University. He also earned an MA in International Relations at Fresno State University. This past Spring he earned an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary.Technoflo

He is also a graduate of the California Agriculture Leadership Program (Class XXV). His book on the Swiss Model of Confederation was published in 2010. His book, Ten Reasons; Finding Balance on Environmental Issues, was published in 2012. His other books include This Week on the Farm: Stories about a boy, his dog and his truck, and a book on local history, Images of America: Kerman.

In addition to farming, Paul teaches political science at Fresno State and Fresno City College. In the past he taught business ethics, US Constitution, critical thinking, personal finance and world religions at the University of Phoenix in Fresno.

He lives on the farm with his wife Sheryl. Their daughter, Heidi, teaches school in Sanger. Their son, Jonathan, served five and a half years in the US Army. Paul enjoys reading, photography, travel and cooking. As a traveler he has visited twenty five countries and long rides on his motorcycle through the American West.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by www.WaterWrights.net/DAW

 

State Board to Pay Lawsuit Fees November 18, 2022

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Sacramento California outside capital building

By Don A. Wright

There is a new development in the court case against the State Water Resources Control Board by districts with pre-1914 water rights. The State Board tried to curtail diversions of San Joaquin River water and presented itself as having authority over pre-1914 rights. The year 1914 is a major date in California water law as that was when the Water Commission Act established the permitting process. Rights held before then were grandfathered in.

The court ruled – no, the State Board does not have authority over these rights, more or less. California’s Sixth District Court of Appeals also ruled the State Board owes attorney fees to: Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, Central Delta Water Agency, South Delta WA, San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, Oakdale Id and South San Joaquin ID – the plaintiffs involved.

This is a very significant development. The State Board doesn’t pay for its own litigation expense. The Office of California’s Attorneys General bankrolls it and from the State Board’s budget  perspective it has carte blanche to spin the lawsuit wheel. When an individual, company or smaller state agency goes up against the State Board it goes up against an entity backed by a state budget of $300 billion in 2022 alone, that doesn’t have to pay its own legal bills.

The Decision

According to the decision, “Section 1021.5 of the California Water Code did not always permit a public entity to seek recovery of its attorney fees from another public entity. In 1993, the Legislature amended section 1021.5 to include public entities within its purview.  ‘[T]he Legislature essentially recognized that sometimes there may be a need for one public entity to engage in public interest litigation against another public entity under circumstances that make a fee award under section 1021.5 appropriate.  . . .  [T]he amendment was aimed (at least in part) at ‘enabl[ing] small public entities to resist large, well-financed public entities, who, in the absence of [the amendment], [would] simply bludgeon the former into legal submission.’” Emphasis added.

On April 23, 2015, the Board sent out curtailment notices to a group of water right holders that told “all holders of post-1914 appropriative water rights within the San Joaquin River watershed . . . to immediately stop diverting under their post-1914 water rights.”  The notices also “advised that, if you continue to divert under a claim of pre-1914 right, most or all pre-1914 rights in the San Joaquin River watershed are likely to be curtailed later this year due to the extreme dry conditions.”  On May 1, 2015, the Board sent nearly identical notices to water right holders within the Sacramento River watershed.

In June 2015, the Board sent curtailment notices to water right holders, including the Districts, with “pre-1914 claims of right, with a priority date of 1903 and later for the Sacramento-San Joaquin watersheds and the Delta” telling them “that, due to ongoing drought conditions, there is insufficient water in the system to service their claims of right.” The notices told the recipients “to immediately stop diverting water . . . until water conditions improve.”

The Enforcers

The June 2015 notices expressly stated, under the heading “Potential Enforcement”:  “If the State Water Board finds following an adjudicative proceeding that a person or entity has diverted or used water [] unlawfully, the State Water Board may assess penalties of $1,000 per day of violation and $2,500 for each acre-foot diverted or used in excess of a valid water right.  (See Water Code, §§ 1052, 1055.)  Additionally, if the State Water Board issues a Cease and Desist Order against an unauthorized diversion, violation of any such order can result in a fine of $10,000 per day.  In all, the Board’s 2015 curtailments applied to “9,218 water rights” whether pre or post 1914.

The districts filed court mandate actions challenging the curtailment notices on due process and jurisdictional grounds asserting the Board had violated their due process rights by issuing the curtailment notices without providing them with a pre-deprivation hearing. They also stated the Board had exceeded its jurisdiction in curtailing their water rights because it lacked the authority to regulate pre-1914 appropriative water rights.

They had good reason to file. Byron-Bethany ID stated the State Board’s actions would cause the loss of more than $65 million in crops. The petition filed by WSID, CDWA, and SDWA alleged that if they continued diverting in defiance of the Board’s curtailment notice for one month, they would incur over $12 million in penalties. SJTA, whose constituent districts cover a territory exceeding 72,000 acres, alleged in its petition that a single 200-acre farm would incur a penalty of over $1.5 million in 20 days if it defied the curtailment notice. West Side ID asserted that injunctive relief was necessary because curtailment of water would result in approximately $25 million in crop losses within its district.

Restraints Applied

The court granted “a temporary restraining order and an order to show cause as to why a preliminary injunction should not issue requiring the Board to issue a revised letter/notice that is informational in nature.”

The court found that the curtailment notices were “coercive in nature,” they would cause irreparable harm, and the districts were likely to prevail on the merits. The court reasoned that the language of the notices expressed that the Board had already determined without a hearing that these districts were no longer permitted to divert water, which violated their due process rights.

On July 15, 2015, the Board issued a “partial rescission” and “clarification” of the April, May, and June 2015 notices. The partial rescission and clarification told the recipients, including the districts, that the Board was “rescind[ing] the ‘curtailment’ portions of the unavailability notices you received. To the extent that [those] notices . . . contain language that may be construed as an order requiring you to stop diversions under your affected water right, that language is hereby rescinded.”

On July 30, 2015, the court discharged the order to show cause after it found that the Board’s July 2015 partial rescission and clarification complied with its order. The Board began lifting the curtailment notices in September 2015 and had lifted all of them by November 2015.

While the 2015 curtailment notices were still in effect, the Board initiated administrative enforcement proceedings against BBID and WSID alleging unauthorized diversions. SDWA, CDWA, and SJTA notified the Board that they would appear and participate in the administrative enforcement proceedings, including by presenting expert witness and other testimony and by cross-examining witnesses. In June 2016, the Board dismissed the administrative enforcement proceedings after an administrative hearing demonstrated that the Board’s prosecution team could not satisfy its burden of proof.

Although the Board dismissed the enforcement proceedings, the Board’s dismissal order expressly rejected the districts’ claims that the Board lacked jurisdiction over pre-1914 appropriative water right holders under California Water Code 1052(a).  After the dismissal of the administrative enforcement proceedings, the districts filed three additional mandate petitions in court challenging the Board’s dismissal order on the ground that the Board lacked jurisdiction over pre-1914 water rights.

Justice Isn’t Cheap

The districts incurred substantial attorney fees, costs, expert witness fees, exhibit expenses, and deposition costs in connection with the administrative enforcement proceedings. In the administrative proceedings, they asked the Board to award them more than $1.1 million in costs. The Board rejected this request, concluding that section 1032 did not apply to administrative proceedings, and no other statutory authority provided for an award by the Board of costs incurred in an administrative enforcement proceeding.

The court issued a lengthy written order in December 2019 addressing the motions for attorney fees and costs. The court acknowledged that it was undisputed that the districts had:

  • Prevailed and had enforced an important right affecting the public interest,
  • The districts had “conferred a significant benefit” on a large group of people other than themselves as a result of the court proceedings,
  • But – not as a result of the administrative proceedings.

The court found that the districts faced “enormous financial penalties” if they failed to comply with the curtailment notices, and “enormous” “economic damage from lost crops,” which in BBID’s case alone would have exceeded “$65 million,” if they complied with the curtailment notices. The court found that these financial incentives dwarfed the attorney fees that the districts ultimately devoted to the litigation. “Thus, it is clear that the petitioners had ample financial incentive to file the five original actions herein, far outweighing the attorney fees they request now.”

The court identified a second decision point as the districts’ opposition to the enforcement actions that were initiated in July 2015. The court recognized that fees incurred in administrative proceedings were recoverable under section Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 if “ ‘ “useful and necessary” ’ ” to the court litigation. The court found that the enforcement actions sought $10,000 per day in fines against WSID and $1.5 million in penalties against BBID. Because the enforcement actions were intended to establish a “ ‘precedent,’ ” the court found that all of the districts had a financial incentive to oppose the enforcement actions and that the burden they bore was not out of proportion to their personal stake in the litigation.

The court felt that winning the decisions against enforcement actions was in a manner compensation – the district’s water supplies are more secure and that is worth money. Kind of like how the IRA treats debt relieve as income. That’s why it didn’t award fees.

The Almost Final Verdict

The Sixth Appellate Court disagreed and said the districts didn’t “recover monetary relief” and ordered the trial court to enter a new order granting the districts their attorney fees. The decision from the appellate court lists more than $1.15 million in fees. There is some consideration in the legal community this amount could approach $3.5 million when all is said and done.

The above is a summation of a 37-page densely packed legal document. It is hoped the people of California realize this is how unaccountable agencies spend their taxes. The unstated takeaway could be, “The state pays millions of dollars for abusing the rights of its citizens. The state is held accountable for that abuse, priceless.”

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide its clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by www.WaterWrights.net/DAW

 

Glenn Colusa Irrigation District November 17, 2022

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By Don A. Wright

The Glenn Colusa Irrigation District board of directors met in person at its Willow headquarters, on Mind-Soft Teams and by telephone on Thursday, November 17, 2022. The Sacramento Valley is a unique part of the state. It’s about a third the size of the San Joaquin Valley. The western portion of the southern San Joaquin can be very dry and devoid of trees in some areas. The Sacramento has beautiful oaks lining both sides of the Valley in the foothills. It also has Sutter Butte sticking up in the middle of it. I always find it both exciting and puzzling to drive along a flat valley floor and there’s a mountain all by itself sticking up.Conterra

The Meeting

The meeting was called to order by Chairman Don Bransford who led us in a flag salute at 9:00am, the scheduled start time. The consent calendar was approved so the minutes and accounts payable were covered. There was a payment to Colusa Farm Supplies that was also approved separately.

Communications

Janet Zimmerman from CV Strategies gave a presentation for a renewal of a one-year communication support agreement. Zimmerman said CV holds weekly meetings with General Manager Thad Bettner and develops public relations materials; specifically mentioned was the materials for the Water Education Foundation tour. Strategic planning, branding, video, print and website/analytics are all included as part of the agreement. Zimmerman presented a slide show of materials produced. GCID does have a new logo and it looks pretty good and now has a Fakebook page that includes an interview with Bransford on NBC. That’d be a good reason to go on that social platform.

CV Strategies has offices in Los Angeles, Palm Desert (between Palm Springs and Indian Wells) and Sacramento. The strategic plan is still being refined. Bransford said the district’s habitat projects need better recognition. There was a local television news segment that listed the district’s project but gave no mention of GCID. He suggested to Zimmerman CV give the board a quarterly update. He said he wasn’t aware of most of the material presented and could use copies when he’s meeting with others. Bransford also suggested working closer with PPIC as the work being done there is excellent. The board approved the renewal. Good for them. In this increased media heavy news environment its often good to take the myriad responsibilities of district management and focus it on water matters. Sharing the load with a specialist only makes sense otherwise why have an accountant or superintendent?

Water Rates

The thing said about winter water rates is the Sacramento Valley is dry. Director John Amaro said there are species of wildlife showing up in the yard behind his home that have never appeared before. He also said for the growers who have been diligent with conservation and as responsible as could be – he’d like to see very low to no cost winter water. He said that would help for the next growing season.

Bettner said there needs to be more rain for a decent winter water supply and there is a storm coming in. Of course that makes folks happy. He also said it would be good to set the parameters of a winter program now to avoid confusion and last minute tinkering. The goal, if I understood, depending on availability, winter water up to one acre foot per acre for $5. If there is more water there could be more offered. I believe the first bucket of water released to this program would be equally distributed across the district and following releases would be on a first come first serve basis.

Water Master Report

Assistant GM Greg Krzys said there isn’t much coming out of Keswick and the district is pulling Term 21 water to keep the canal stable. There is a pump down on one of the canals causing a diversion to natural streams to move water. There is also a leak on one of the monitors requiring some adjustment to a lift station to ensure deliveries to the wildlife refuges. There was also some talk about operations involving individual landowners which led to an earlier discrepancy in amounts received but that has been resolved. There was an end of season meeting of staff to review the operations and determined there is room to improve.

Bransford said this year has been unprecedented. He said there is a learning curve for the way water was accounted during such an extreme season and I believe he thought the staff and the district handled a difficult situation well and will learn from it and improve.

Bettner said the district’s record keeping has been well maintained and he wanted the board to know the staffs’ perspective is well considered. He wasn’t suggested engaging in a he said/she said dialog with growers. The growers have their records as well. It was a dry year and even though communications were ongoing there were lessons learned. Some of the growers need to tighten up their end as well. It sounds like all or at least most of the crop types grown in GCID are classified and amounts assigned according to supply availability. If I recall the CVP contractors in the Sacramento Valley got a 20 percent or so allocation. That’s not much historically. There’s a perception the north end of the Central Valley always has plenty of water. Sometimes but not always. They have their troubles too.

Director Blake Vann said he would agree better communication is need, that’s the lesson learned. However, he said for the most part having only three really vocal problems with landowners at the end of such a season isn’t bad.

Engineering Report

I believe it was Kevin Nelson who gave the report. It was a bit difficult to hear him but it sounded like there wasn’t anything ultra out of the ordinary judging by board response. I heard him say they are working on a grant for the Colusa Subbasin and the Gravel Bar project that will include a gracious two-week deadline extension courtesy of DWR. Well, isn’t that nice? Good for them.All Water Rights

Financial Report

Louis Jarvis gave his report remotely from a room that was all white. It looked like the background for a television commercial. Stark shading straight lines with subtle curves. It brought to mind the iconic album cover of Robin Trower’s Bridge of Sighs. However, being this is a financial report and I didn’t have an actual document of figures to look at I’m going to make my usual judgement call and state GCID is doing pretty good when it comes to money.

Other Reports

Bettner said there is a good deal of interest in bringing on a GSP coordinator to help with development and implementation by the GSAs. Carl Stark flew out from Denver on behalf of the US Bureau of Reclamation to discuss the Sites Reservoir project. There is the possibility of the Bureau actually paying for a portion of this project.

There was also a productive water operator meeting last week. The Glenn Groundwater Authority is applying for numerous grants to aid in recharge. Bransford said the Sacramento Policy Group met with a lady from the National Marine Fisheries Service, didn’t catch her name. She said some distressing things like the goal was to keep enough cold water for the salmon eggs to hatch. Not actually restore fish. So, is the bar once again being moved? Another comment at the meeting was from another lady who was new and stated the salmon problem was decades in the making. Bransford told her 30-years ago fish screens were installed and that was going to solve the problem, but it didn’t. He said there are new people who need educating.

Attorney Andy Hitching had nothing for open session. The date for the December meeting would include acknowledging long time employee Rick Ortez for his service to the district. Friday December 16th will serve as the date for now. It’s herding cats to get everyone in a room at the same time. The meeting then went into closed session at 10:25pm to discuss four lawsuit situations and labor negotiations. Always a pleasant visit with GCID.

DISCLAIMER OF RESPONSIBILITY; Waterwrights.net strives to provide clients with the most complete, up-to-date, and accurate information available. Nevertheless, Waterwrights.net does not serve as a guarantor of the accuracy or completeness of the information provided, and specifically disclaims any and all responsibility for information that is not accurate, up-to-date, or complete.  Waterwrights.net’s clients therefore rely on the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of information from Waterwrights.net entirely at their own risk. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not represent any advertisers or third parties.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  Copyright 2022 by DAW/WaterWrights.net

GLENN COLUSA ID – President Donald R. Bransford, Vice President Peter Knight, John Amaro, Logan Dennis and Blake Vann.

Staff: Thaddeus Bettner – General Manager,  Greg Krzys – Assistant GM, Zac Dickens – District Engineer, Kevin Nelson – Superintendent, Louis Jarvis – Finance Director, Andy Hitchings – Attorney Somach, Simons & Dunn.

GCID

344 East Laurel Street

Willows, CA 95988

530/934-8881

contact@gcid.net

DWR SGMA # 5-021.52

From the GCID website: Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID) is dedicated to providing reliable, affordable water supplies to its landowners and water users, while ensuring the environmental and economic viability of the region. As the largest irrigation district in the Sacramento Valley, GCID has a long history of serving farmers and the agricultural community and maintaining critical wildlife habitat. The District fulfills its mission of efficiently and effectively managing and delivering water through an ever-improving delivery system and responsible policies, while maintaining a deep commitment to sustainable practices. Looking ahead, GCID will remain focused on continuing to deliver a reliable and sustainable water supply by positioning itself to respond proactively, strategically and responsibly to California’s ever-changing water landscape.