Little Hoover Commission: Special Districts Should “Tell Their Story”

The Little Hoover Commission, an independent state oversight agency, released the below report following a year-long review of California’s special districts. There are more than 2,000 independent special districts in the state, providing 29 types of vital services ranging from fire protection to water delivery, healthcare and more.

The Commission makes a series of recommendations aimed at  improving special district oversight, public engagement, and transparency.

Little Hoover Commission Report (2)

ACWA: No Statewide Tax on Water (Video)

In response to a bill that would impose the first-ever statewide tax on Californians’ water, the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) released the below video.

Background: The bill, SB 623 by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel), addresses the very serious problem of ensuring safe drinking water for disadvantaged communities.  ACWA’s Board of Directors and members have made it a high priority to support bond funds and other drinking water funding to address this serious social and public health issue, but a new tax on water is not the right approachACWA is actively opposing this bill.

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Commends Hertzberg Senate Committee Appointment

Byron, CA (December 22, 2016) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement:

“Byron-Bethany Irrigation District applauds the selection of Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) as chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Senator Hertzberg has spent more than 40 years studying the complexities of California water policy, and is an ideal candidate to help the state’s water community seek solutions in a great time of change.”

“We collectively face unprecedented challenges, from the sixth year of our historic drought, to renewed focus on water efficiency and storage, to the critical balancing of the needs of our cities, agriculture and the environment. Senator Hertzberg has already pushed pilot programs for capturing more stormwater and recycled water, as well as introduced legislation to stop wasteful dumping of treated water into the ocean. We look forward to partnering with him on California water solutions.”

Landmark Water Rights Case Moves Forward

Santa Clara, CA (September 30, 2016) – A historic case brought to protect some of the oldest water rights in California is moving forward. In Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday, September 30th, Judge Peter Kirwan ruled that there is sufficient legal cause for the case to proceed.

The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) filed the action last June, challenging the unlawful curtailment notices sent to pre-1914 water rights holders, including BBID, by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The unprecedented notices sought to prevent senior water rights holders from lawfully exercising their water rights.

“We are pleased with Judge Kirwan’s decision,”said BBID General Counsel Michael Vergara.“It reflects the gravity and complexity of this case, and refuse s to allow the SWRCB to escape its illegitimate decision to carelessly threaten the livelihood of people and businesses that depend on water from BBID and similarly situated water right holders.”

BBID recently prevailed in a separate administrative hearing before the SWRCB, which brought an enforcement action accusing the District of diverting water when none was available, threatening a $5 million fine. BBID’s legal team argued that careful analysis of the data proved the SWRCB was ultimately incorrect. In June, the SWRCB dismissed its complaint, citing the prosecution team’s failure to prove its case. The action before the Superior Court in Santa Clara was filed by BBID before those proceedings began, and has since been amended to reflect the outcome.

In addition to attempting to bring clarity to – and protect – senior water rights in California, BBID is also seeking to recover its costs of purchasing additional water last year, as well as recover substantial legal fees and other costs associated with the SWRCB’s enforcement action.

SWRCB attorneys argued in court Friday to have the case thrown out, but the judge disagreed. In a procedural ruling, the judge also opted to allow the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public water providers, to become a party in the case.

Meanwhile, BBID has a separate action pending in Sacramento County Superior Court, challenging the SWRCB’s improper assertion of jurisdiction over pre -1914 water rights, as set forth in its dismissal of the enforcement action.

“Grappling with these complex legal issues is part of our duty to protect the water rights that provide the very foundation for our communities,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “These cases have real impacts for not only the multi-generational family farmers in our district, but for senior water rights holders across the state.”

Read the Joint Case Management Conference Statement here.