Los Banos, CA (August 5, 2016) – The San Luis Reservoir has fallen to just 10% capacity, its lowest level in 25 years.
“These pictures speak volumes about the gross mismanagement of the Central Valley Project ,” said Byron- Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) General Manager Rick Gilmore. “We simply cannot continue to prioritize failing environmental policies over the survival of agriculture.”
Despite above-average rainfall this year, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced in April a 5% allocation for south-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, a harsh blow for farmers in BBID’s CVP service area near Tracy. The CVP was started in the 1930s to transport water from reservoirs in Northern California to the Central Valley, largely for agricultural use. However, before this year’s 5% allocation, farmers in BBID’s CVP service area were hit with a zero-percent CVP supply for three straight years. While Shasta Lake sits three-quarters full, San Luis Reservoir, where water from Northern California is stored, is dwindling.
“The broken state of San Luis Reservoir reflects the broader reality that the CVP, as a water supply project, has been broken by the policy choices of the Federal government,” said Jason Peltier, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.
“The unending practice of taking water from human use and giving it to fish in hopes of helping the fish is a failed enterprise,” Peltier added. “The fish are not responding at all. At the same time human, social and economic destruction continues to accelerate. Shameful.”
Byron, CA (July 26, 2016) – At a history-making board meeting, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) gave unanimous support to merge with West Side Irrigation District (WSID). The plan to consolidate the two major Tracy-area irrigation districts is one step closer to reality, after BBID’s Board of Directors voted 6-0 in favor of the merger. WSID leaders were in attendance at the meeting.
“Our two districts becoming one will be a stronger force in the water industry, ensuring greater water reliability for our customers,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “Given the current political climate and recent challenges to water rights, there’s strength in numbers.”
The resolution approved by BBID Tuesday calls for the 6,000-acre WSID service area west of Tracy to be incorporated into the existing 30,000-acre service area of BBID, establishing a single, 36,000-acre district. At a board meeting earlier this month, WSID’s Board of Directors voice d their support for the plan with a 3-1 vote.
The affirmative votes by both districts came after carefully weighing the benefits a consolidation would bring customers, including stronger water resources and financial sustainability. An ad-hoc committee comprised of members from both districts reviewed all aspects of a potential merger, toured district facilities and examined financial data. Landowners voiced strong support at a public meeting.
Significant steps remain in the coming months before the consolidation can become official. The San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has indicated both agencies will be required to complete a municipal service review (MSR), as well as enter into a property tax sharing agreement with San Joaquin County. Ultimately, San Joaquin LAFCO must sign off on a district reorganization plan to finalize the merger.
The last time BBID went before LAFCO was more than a decade ago, in 2004, when BBID successfully merged with Plain View Water District.
Tracy, CA (July 14, 2016) – In a move that sets the stage for two major Tracy area irrigation districts to join forces, leaders with the West Side Irrigation District (WSID) gave their official approval to merge with Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). WSID’s Board of Directors voted 3-1 in favor of the action at their board meeting Wednesday night.
WSID’s vote came after months of thoughtful discussion between the two districts carefully weighing the benefits a consolidation would bring customers, including stronger water resources and ongoing financial sustainability. A merger would result in the incorporation of WSID’s existing 6,000-acre service area west of Tracy into the existing 30,000-acre service area of BBID, establishing a single, 36,000-acre district.
“We see the potential for better water reliability as one district,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “Sharing resources can only help us serve our customers more effectively and efficiently.”
Over the last few months, an ad-hoc committee comprised of members from both districts reviewed all aspects of a potential merger. The committee toured district facilities and poured over financial data. A public meeting seeking input from landowners in both districts found overwhelming support.
The matter now rests in the hands of BBID’s Board of Directors, set to take a vote at the District’s next board meeting. If BBID votes to merge with WSID, a district reorganization plan would be submitted to the San Joaquin County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) for final approval.
It would be the second merger BBID has successfully undertaken. In 2004, BBID merged with Plainview Water District.
Byron, CA (June 28, 2016) – Leaders with Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) announced Tuesday they are partnering with water experts in California and Israel, in an international effort to find new ways to save water in California and abroad. BBID will attend, and sponsor, the Israel California Water (ICWater) Conference, a joint effort between the two water sectors to collaborate and become more sustainable.
Event organizers say the ICWater Conference will center around smart water technology and practical business, regulatory and financing solutions to help solve California’s water crisis. In addition to featuring business leaders, researchers, policy leaders, technology experts from California, the conference will also include representatives from more than twenty Israeli water technology firms.
“It’s no secret California’s water community faces considerable challenges in the months and years ahead,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “We need practical solutions. BBID welcomes fruitful global partnerships like this one, that encourage collaboration and provide new ways of thinking about solving our age-old water issues here in California.”
The event is part of an ongoing collaboration between California and Israel, born from a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Governor Brown and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2014. It strengthens a partnership that already has seen California companies partner with Israeli firms for smart water research and implementation in multiple facets of the water world.
The ICWater Conference was held on Wednesday, June 29th, at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey in Los Angeles, and on June 30th, 2016 at the Leichtag Commons in San Diego.
Byron, CA (June 7, 2016) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement in response to the State Water Resources Control Board’s Curtailment Notice of June 12, 2015:
“In addition to the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) suffering back to back years of “zero water supply” from the Bureau of Reclamation for BBID’s Central Valley Project Service Area, the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) curtailment notice received today will have a devastating impact on the remaining customers of BBID, which holds water rights dating from over a century ago. As a steward of our great state’s resources, we understand the seriousness of the historic drought that is affecting California. However, this curtailment order will be extremely destructive to the customers we serve including nearly 160 farmers, 15,000 residents of the Mountain House community, and the energy projects in the area, all of which are essential to our community’s vitality.
The additional loss of water will destroy thousands of acres of crops and eliminate thousands of jobs, which will likely result in the irreparable loss of vibrant communities. Without water, our area will lose nearly 10,000 acres of almonds, cherries, sweet corn, grapes, tomatoes, walnuts, alfalfa and more. By this action, the SWRCB is taking away our ability to provide our customers with a safe, reliable water supply – a resource essential to life; particularly to the agricultural communities we serve.
In order to protect our customers and the crops in our service area, we will pursue relief from the SWRCB’s curtailment notice in Superior Court. We will vigorously defend our rights and will insist on due process and full consideration of factors that have not been adequately taken into account. We are optimistic that the Court will uphold our Constitutional rights, and the restriction on our diversion of water will be lifted before it has had a shattering impact on the communities we serve.”
Byron, CA (June 7, 2016) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement following the State Water Resources Control Board’s vote to dismiss its administrative civil liability complaint against the District:
“Byron Bethany Irrigation District commends the State Water Resources Control Board’s decision to dismiss its enforcement action against the District and the farmers and ranchers it serves. The State Board’s decision displayed commendable objectivity in its comprehensive analysis of the matter. While this was not an easy process for any of the parties involved, the Board’s decision represents an important step toward a future of collaboration and cooperation in the management of the state’s water issues.”
“Much work remains to be done to bring clarity to the extent and nature of the Board’s authority over California’s oldest water rights and water use. We hear the Board’s call for stakeholder engagement, and look forward to working together with the SWRCB in a collaborative process to improve water availability analysis and enhance the state’s future water reliability.”