Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Honored with Statewide Water Award

Monterey, CA (May 10, 2017) – In recognition of its victorious, high-stakes stand to protect some of the oldest water rights in California, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) was honored Wednesday with the 2017 ACWA (Association of California Water Agencies) Excellence in Water Leadership Award.

According to ACWA, the prestigious annual award recognizes those who make a “remarkable and visible contribution to the enhancement, protection or development of water resources in California.” The award was presented at ACWA’s Spring Conference in Monterey to BBID GM Rick Gilmore, and BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro, who accepted on behalf of BBID’s Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire District, we extend our deepest appreciation to ACWA for this incredible recognition,” Kagehiro said. “Our fight was not only for BBID, but for districts statewide, whose water rights provide the backbone of the communities we collectively serve.”

“Providing reliable water is the essence of our mission,” Gilmore said. “Though it wasn’t easy, we had no choice but to take the lead, navigating extreme regulatory uncertainty to defend the water supply that is rightfully ours.”

ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs, left, poses with BBID GM Rick Gilmore, center, and BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro.

Amidst harsh drought in 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued unprecedented curtailments, and subsequently accused BBID of taking water when none was available, threatening a $5-plus million fine. BBID’s legal team fought back to preserve the District’s pre-1914 water rights, disproving the state’s arguments. The SWRCB eventually dismissed the case, securing a victory that would resonate throughout California’s water community.

“Byron-Bethany’s district staff and elected officials understood what was at stake for their community,” said ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs. “Their foresight, leadership and ability to build consensus in the face of extreme challenge kept water flowing for the residents, farmers, agricultural workers and families in their multi-county service area.”

BBID was nominated for the Excellence in Water Leadership Award by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), a collective of water agencies representing more than 2 million acres of 29 federal and exchange water service contractors.

“California is blessed to have thousands of dedicated water leaders who make our incredible water management system work so well,” said SLDMWA Executive Director Jason Peltier. “When leadership shines through most clearly is in a time of crisis, and Rick and his Board earned this award by leaning forward into the regulatory machine that now controls so much of our system. It took guts and commitment to secure justice. They did it.”

The 2017 Excellence in Water Leadership Award.

Demonstrating BBID’s deep connection to its community, numerous Letters of support were submitted on BBID’s behalf, including one from Gay Costa of the Mountain House School District.

“Mr. Gilmore, the BBID Board, and their staff went into the hearings with the weight of our farmers, ranchers’ community and this school on their shoulders,” Costa wrote. “The students witnessed a pillar of their community stand up for their right to carry on their family business and continue a culture deep in tradition and pride.”

Farmer Mike Sandhu also wrote in support of the District, “Without BBID’s stand, growers could have been stripped of our livelihoods and driven off our land that, for some of us, goes back generations. Their commitment secured our children’s futures. We have the water we need today – and tomorrow – thanks to BBID.”

Another letter was submitted by former BBID counsel and current in-house counsel for Placer County Water Agency, Dan Kelly.

“While, in certain circles, BBID’s decision to challenge the SWRCB’s curtailments was not popular – it was the courageous thing to do,” Kelly wrote. “Leaders are not people who simply fall in line. Leaders are people who make hard decisions; often unpopular, to achieve the right and just result. Rick Gilmore and the BBID Board of Directors did just that.”

As part of the Excellence in Water Leadership Award, BBID will be privileged to present a $5,000 charitable donation to a non-profit organization of their choosing that works toward the enhancement and protection of California’s water resources.

WATCH: Click below to see BBID accept the 2017 ACWA Excellence in Water Leadership Award!

Opposition Letter: SB 1 Likely to Have “Statewide Disruptive Impacts to the State’s Water Systems”

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) conveyed its strong opposition to Senate Bill 1, which BBID and a coalition of water agencies believes “…threatens water supply reliability for millions of Californians and jeopardizes efforts to improve the environmental health of the Sacramento and San Joaquin River watersheds.”

Read the full letter below.

BBID – SB 1 (Oppose)_

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.”

Water Agency Coalition: SB 1 “Threatens Water Supply Reliability for Millions of Californians”

A number of public water agencies, including Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, are strongly opposing Senate Bill 1. The below letter outlines concerns with the legislation, including how it threatens water supply reliability and may negatively impact efforts to improve environmental health of California watersheds.

20190611 LTR.SB 1 Coalition Letter FINAL - Asm ESTM

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.

BBID Engages State Water Board to Ensure Proper Implementation of Water Rights Fairness Bill

In its ongoing commitment to ensure fairness for California’s water right holders, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) proactively engaged the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board).

The below letter details BBID’s efforts to ensure the proper implementation of Assembly Bill 747, which establishes a neutral Administrative Hearings Office to adjudicate complex water rights matters.

SWRCB Esquivel_AB747 Hearing Officer_060319

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.