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.

WATCH: Proposed District Consolidation Takes Step Forward

Stockton, CA (May 9, 2019) – The proposed consolidation between Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) and the West Side Irrigation District (WSID) took an important step forward.

At its regular May 2019 meeting, the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted to allow the draft Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) report prepared for both districts to move forward in the public review process with a hearing to be scheduled on June 13.

Representatives from BBID addressed the Commission, whose vote was unanimous.

Watch the full proceedings below (video courtesy of San Joaquin County LAFCO).

WATCH: BBID, WSID District Overview & Infrastructure Tour

In advance of next week’s meeting before the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) released the following video, which will be presented to LAFCO.

The video provides a brief overview of BBID and West Side Irrigation District (WSID). BBID and WSID will present a report before the Commission, another step in the planned consolidation of the districts.

Farmers Face Water Shortfall Despite Dense Snowpack, Full Reservoirs

Byron, CA (April 17, 2019) – Today, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) announced a slight increase in the allocation for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, to 65%. This comes at a time the state’s snowpack is so dense it’s been referred to as a “water supply dream,” and every reservoir used to supply South-of-Delta operations is above 100% of normal.

“Despite an overly abundant water supply,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore, “this incremental increase is essentially a drop in the bucket. If we can’t even get close to a full, 100% supply this year – then when, if ever?”

“The snowpack surpassed 160% of normal in the northern and central Sierra Nevada,” Gilmore continued. “Meanwhile, reservoirs are in flood control operations. And yet, our growers and ranchers are still being forced to make do with less than their fair share.”

At the outset of the 2019 growing season, the uncertainty created by continually delayed allocation announcements makes it extremely difficult for farmers to plan their operations.

“Reclamation staff understands the challenges and difficulties these decisions create,” Gilmore said. “However, they are boxed in by the biological opinions in the overly-protective Endangered Species Act, which imposes significant restrictions on available water at a time there is more than enough to go around. To add insult to injury, the restrictions that have crippled CVP operations for so long have provided none of the intended benefits to fish species, which continue to decline despite the severe impacts the biological opinions are having on people. We also are concerned that SB1, newly-proposed legislation, may make this problem worse, not better.”

“Never has the problem – and solution – been clearer,” Gilmore said. “It is beyond argument that these runaway regulations must be reigned in. Until then, the CVP can’t fulfill its primary purpose: supplying water to those who supply much of the nation’s food.”