Gov. Newsom Protects CA Water Supply, Collaborative Solutions with SB 1 Veto

Byron, CA (September 28, 2019) – Responding to widespread input from a statewide coalition of business leaders and water agencies, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday vetoed Senate Bill 1 (Atkins). The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) and dozens of other organizations voiced strong opposition to the bill, which threatened to hurt California’s water supply reliability and derail critically important collaboration aimed at finding solutions to fix the Delta.

“Byron-Bethany Irrigation District commends Gov. Newsom for his decisive action in sending SB 1 back to the Legislature,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “We appreciate his ongoing willingness to engage with California’s water community in search of workable solutions to protect both our environment, and the reliability and resiliency of our water supplies. Unfortunately, SB 1 as written would have done more harm than good. Thankfully, Gov. Newsom recognized that.”

The bill, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), passed in the waning hours of the legislative session. In his veto message, Gov. Newsom said that he “disagree[d] with the efficacy and necessity of SB 1.”

In more than 100 meetings with legislators on both sides of the aisle, BBID argued that the bill would have created an impassable roadblock to continuing the Voluntary Settlement Agreement (VSA) process, one of the most consequential, collaborative efforts in the history of California water. The VSAs would create a foundational framework for increased water management flexibility, habitat restoration, and protect endangered fish populations. Moreover, cutting-edge science developed over the past decade with millions of dollars of investments would have been discarded under SB 1.

“In Gov. Newsom’s directive to create a Water Resilience Portfolio, he called for creative solutions to meet our unprecedented water challenges,” added Gilmore. “Locking us into out-of-date science contradicts that call, and severely hampers our ability to meet the growing, evolving water needs of the state. We are grateful for his recognition of SB 1’s shortcomings in this regard.”

“Moreover, we are incredibly thankful for the help of a bi-partisan coalition of state and federal lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who spoke out about the negative impacts of the bill,” Gilmore continued. “Now, we must continue to seek common ground for environmental stewardship, while using our best available science to meet the needs of the future.”

SB 1: A Threat to California’s Water Supply

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is joining a broad-based coalition of water agencies, business leaders and concerned constituents in calling for lawmakers to fix Senate Bill 1 (Atkins). SB 1 threatens water supply reliability for millions of Californians and threatens to derail the Voluntary Settlement Agreements in the Delta. Read more below!

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BBID Seeks to Recover Fees from State in Landmark Water Rights Case

San Jose, CA (August 5, 2019) –On Monday, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) filed a motion in Santa Clara County Superior Court, seeking to recover nearly $2 million in attorneys’ fees from the State of California.

The motion is directly related to an enforcement action brought by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) against BBID shortly after BBID sued the SWRCB over unlawful curtailment notices issued by the SWRCB to more than a thousand pre-1914 water rights holders, including BBID. Over BBID’s objection, the Santa Clara Court stayed BBID’s lawsuit pending completion of the administrative hearing of the SWRCB’s enforcement action.

The SWRCB’s enforcement action sought enforcement of the curtailment notices against BBID for diverting water when allegedly none was available under its priority of right, and seeking a $5 million fine. On the third day of the administrative hearing before the SWRCB, BBID’s legal team successfully argued that the evidence submitted by the SWRCB litigation team failed to meet its burden of proof, and the SWRCB hearing officer granted BBID’s motion for judgment dismissing the enforcement action.

After the dismissal of the enforcement action, BBID resumed its related lawsuit, and on April 3, 2018, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Brian Walsh issued his Statement of Decision holding, among other things, that the SWRCB lacks jurisdiction to enforce priority of rights between pre-1914 and riparian water rights. The Court’s ruling solidifies the oldest water rights in California. Judge Walsh also held that the curtailment notices violated BBID’s due process rights because they commanded immediate curtailment of water rights and threatened large fines without providing water right holders an opportunity to challenge the findings upon which the notices were based.

BBID now seeks recovery of the significant legal fees and costs incurred defending its senior water rights, and those held by the state’s other pre-1914 and riparian water right holders. The hearing of BBID’s motion is set for October 18th.

Read the full court documents below.

District Consolidation One Step Closer to Reality

Stockton, CA (June 13, 2019) – The proposed consolidation between the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) and the West Side Irrigation District (WSID) took a significant step forward Thursday.

The San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) formally approved the updated Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) related to the consolidation. BBID and WSID have worked collaboratively with interested stakeholders in both service areas for quite some time. The planned consolidation would help secure greater water reliability and improve delivery efficiencies.

“We thank LAFCO staff and commissioners for their diligence throughout this process,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “We look forward to moving forward in the coming months.”

BBID Issues Final Documents in Proposed District Consolidation

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) today issued a final document related to its planned consolidation with the West Side Irrigation District (WSID).

BBID released its Final Mitigated Negative Declaration for the Sphere of Influence (SOI) update for the proposed consolidation of BBID and WSID.

The document was provided to the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which will consider the matter at its upcoming meeting on June 13th.

BBID - Final MND, Part 1 05-02-19

UPDATE: Water Districts Issue Final Municipal Service Review in Proposed Consolidation

Byron, CA (June 6, 2019) – On Thursday, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) and West Side Irrigation District (WSID) jointly issued its final Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) related to a planned consolidation between BBID and WSID.

The report addresses major issues of service delivery and efficiency and includes an analysis and a written statement of conclusions, for multiple factors, including growth and population projections for the affected area, disadvantaged unincorporated communities, present and planned capacity of public facilities, financial ability of the agency to provide services, opportunities for shared facilities, and more.

The two Districts have been working collaboratively with interested stakeholders in both service areas for quite some time. The planned consolidation would help secure greater water reliability and improve delivery efficiencies.

The matter is set to be considered by the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) at its next meeting on June 13th. The full MSR is below.