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!

Reclamation Announces 60-Day Comment Period for Draft Contracts for Central Valley Project South-of-Delta Contractors

The following news release was originally posted here on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation website:

FRESNO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation announced today ongoing congressionally mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act).

Today’s release includes draft repayment contracts from the Central Valley Project south-of-delta contractors for a 60-day public comment period. These are 15 of over 80 repayment contract conversions requested by federal Central Valley Project contractors.

The contractors include Banta-Carbona Irrigation District, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, Contra Costa Water District, Del Puerto Water District, Eagle Field Water District, Mercy Springs Water District, The West Side Irrigation District, West Stanislaus Irrigation District, Westlands Water District – Assignment from Oro Loma Water District, Fresno Slough Water District, James Irrigation District, Patterson Irrigation District, Reclamation District No. 1606, Tranquility Irrigation District, and Tranquility Public Utility District.

Reclamation plans to release additional draft repayment contracts with south-of-delta contractors, as applicable for public review in 2020. Reclamation will continue to release more draft repayment contracts throughout the year. Section 4011 of the WIIN Act directs Reclamation to convert water service contracts to repayment contracts upon a contractor’s request and authorizes prepayment of outstanding CVP construction costs.

Under Section 4011, full repayment is due within three years of the contract conversion. Both the prepayment and accelerated repayment of the contracts will result in the federal government being repaid well in advance of the original repayment deadline. These dollars will be placed in an account to fund much-needed storage projects. Increasing storage capacity will allow Reclamation’s projects to capture additional water in wet years to help meet the water needs for project purposes in dry years.

Written comments on this contract must be received by close of business on August 31, 2020 and sent to Erma Leal, South Central California Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, 1243 N Street, Fresno CA 93721 or faxed to 559-262-0371 or emailed to eleal@usbr.gov.

Check the following links to learn more about WIIN Act CVP contract conversions: All negotiated contracts are available at: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/negotiated-conversion-contracts.html.

The entire list of contract conversion requests can be viewed here: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/docs/the-wiin-act-9d-conversion-tracker.xlsx. View contract and WIIN Act information at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/. Contact Erma Leal for more information at 559-262-0350 or eleal@usbr.gov or (TTY 800-877-8339).

Public Input Sought on Groundwater Sustainability Management Plan

The East Contra Costa Groundwater Sustainability Working Group, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID), is preparing a Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Plan) and seeks input on the first two sections of the document.

The East Contra Costa Groundwater Subbasin is a medium priority subbasin, as determined by the State, and requires preparation of a Plan under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Sections 1 and 2 of the Draft Plan discuss the purpose of the Plan, the sustainability goal, the planning area, current and historical water and land uses, and information on groundwater wells in the East Contra Costa Groundwater Subbasin. You may comment on the document without attending the meeting. Sections 1 and 2 are found at the link below, or email groundwaterinfo@dcd.cccounty.us and request the document. Comments are due on July 20, 2020.

Link to document and other information: http://tinyurl.com/ECCGSP-1.

To hear more about the Plan, an online public meeting will be held on Thursday, July 9, from 3:30 to 5:15 p.m.

You may register to attend here: http://tinyurl.com/ECCGSP-mtg1.

For additional SGMA inquiries, to provide more detailed comments, or to be included on the email list, please send us an email.

BBID is part of two groundwater subbasins, the Tracy Subbasin and the East Contra Costa Subbasin. Click here for more information.

The meeting workbook and initial announcement are below.

ECC_Outreach_Meeting_Workbook_Final2

Newspaper Notice 15June2020 - Final

Virtual Public Workshop Planned for Sustainable Groundwater

Local public agencies, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID), are inviting the public to learn more about how agencies are working together to sustainably manage the region’s groundwater.

The virtual workshop will be held on Tuesday, July 21st, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Click here to register: https://tinyurl.com/y9jmarho.

Representatives from local agencies will be on-hand to discuss the planning process as part of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, or SGMA. Click here to learn more.

TracyWorkshop1_FullFlyer_FINAL

Historic Water District Merger Approved

Stockton, CA (June 11, 2020) – In a historic vote, a consolidation of two of the oldest irrigation districts in the Tracy area was approved Thursday. The San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted unanimously in favor of consolidating the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) and the West Side Irrigation District (WSID).

“By combining forces, we will improve water reliability for our customers, as well as greater financial stability and improved efficiency,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “We thank LAFCO for its consideration throughout this process, culminating with today’s affirmative vote.”

Resolutions previously approved by BBID and WSID call 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. The former boundaries of WSID will be known as the West Side Service Area.

The merger has been in the works since 2016, when both districts first voted to move forward. Leaders from BBID and WSID formed an ad-hoc committee, carefully studying financial data and touring facilities dating back decades. Both agencies began in the early 1900s serving agricultural customers. Ultimately, leaders decided a merger would bring substantial benefits in the form of stronger water resources and water rights. Landowners expressed their strong support at a public meeting held at the outset of the process.

Last June, LAFCO adopted a final Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) prepared by both districts, which includes an extensive review of financial information, infrastructure, and services provided.

Following Thursday’s vote, per LAFCO procedure, a protest hearing will be held in 45 days. Unless more than 50% of the registered voters living in the affected area provide a written protest, the merger will become official.

BBID previously merged with the Plain View Water District in 2004.

Sen. Feinstein Introduces Legislation to Restore “Backbone” of CA Water System

Joint Statement by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, Friant Water Authority, and the State Water Contractors, in Support of S.3811, the Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act

The introduction of the S.3811, the Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act by Sen. Dianne Feinstein is a welcome step toward restoring critically-important water supplies to 27 million Californians, 3 million acres of the nation’s most productive farmland, hundreds of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and restoration of the San Joaquin River.

This legislation helps to address the impacts of groundwater subsidence on major portions of California’s water delivery system – infrastructure millions of people depend on for water supply, flood control, and environmental protection.

The bill authorizes $600 million in federal funding for three major projects to repair California’s water delivery system, which has reduced conveyance capacity as a result of subsidence along the canals. The bill provides $200 million for the Friant-Kern Canal, $200 million for the Delta-Mendota Canal, and $200 million for the California Aqueduct. Additionally, the bill provides an additional $200 million in funding for restoration of the San Joaquin River, including environmentally protective infrastructure such as fish screens, fish bypass projects, and control structures necessary to successfully implement the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement.

“The Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act increases federal investments to restore California’s backbone water conveyance infrastructure, which is the foundation on which California’s success is built,” said Federico Barajas, executive director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “Access to reliable water is vital for California’s people, its environment and its economy. This is about investing in the repair and long-term reliability of California’s water infrastructure that serves millions of people, farmland vital to the nation’s food supply, and the preservation and restoration of California’s environment.”

“By helping to address the conveyance pinch on the Friant-Kern Canal – which has reduced its carrying capacity by as much as 60% in some locations – this bill assists with one of the most critical and desperate needs to achieve long-term sustainability in the San Joaquin Valley.  The bill also makes significant investments in implementing the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement, in acknowledgement of the shared future between the Friant Division contractors and the San Joaquin River,” said Jason Phillips, executive director of the Friant Water Authority.

“Successful implementation of the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires that public water agencies have access to the full capacity of the State Water Project’s existing canals.  Senator Feinstein’s bill helps restore capacity in existing canals that are used to move water into storage in wet years so it is available in dry years.  Restoring canal capacity also supports implementation of water storage projects that produce environmental benefits funded by Proposition 1,” said Jennifer Pierre of the State Water Contractors.

The Restoration of Essential Conveyance Act complements legislation by Rep. Jim Costa (CA-16), the author of H.R. 5752, the Conveyance Capacity Correction Act, and H.R. 5316 by Rep. T.J. Cox (CA-21), the Move Water Now Act. Together, the Senate and House bills, if enacted, will provide significant funding necessary to repair these essential conveyance projects.

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Byron-Bethany Irrigation District is a member agency of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

WATCH: BBID Uses World-Class Tech to Conduct Major Pipeline Test

WATCH: Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID), working with its engineering firm Hazen & Sawyer and global firm Pure Technologies, conducted a state-of-the-art pipeline test.

The test, which took place over several days, assessed the condition of the raw water pipeline to Mountain House, the growing community’s sole source of water supply. Results will be announced in several weeks.

Spring Storms Boost CVP Water Allocation

Sacramento, CA (May 19, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) issued an updated, increased water supply allocation of 20% for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). The initial allocation had been set at 15%.

Federico Barajas, Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, issued the following statement:

“During these unprecedented times, we must remember that reliable water supplies are the foundation on which community and economic health is built.

This year’s lack of rain and snowpack has challenged Reclamation’s ability to meet the multiple needs for water deliveries from the Central Valley Project – agricultural water supply, water for ecosystems and threatened species, and water for California’s urban populations.

The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority appreciates Reclamation’s ability to carefully strike a balance, given the challenging conditions. The reliability and quantity of surface water deliveries directly impacts the amount of groundwater that is used to produce the food we eat and the water we drink.

Today’s announcement of a water allocation increase has positive benefits for California communities and its environment and reduces the reliance on groundwater aquifers in the San Joaquin Valley.”

BBID is a member agency of the SLDMWA, which serves 28 member public agencies, 25 of which contract with Reclamation for water supply from the CVP.

In a news release, Reclamation credited spring storms for the increased allocation.

“Thanks to April precipitation showing a sizeable water supply improvement for the American River watershed, Reclamation is pleased to announce this increased allocation for CVP water contractors south-of-the Delta,” said California-Great Basin Regional Director Ernest Conant. “Even with the recent gains in water supply, the year as a whole has still been relatively dry. Reclamation will continue to monitor conditions and adjust accordingly. We urge our contractors to continue to exercise conservative use of the resource.”

Further water supply updates are posted at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/cvp-water/index.html. 

Comments Requested on Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan, Chapters 1 & 2

[CONTRA COSTA, CA] – The East Contra Costa Groundwater Sustainability Working Group is seeking input on Chapters 1 and 2 of a Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Plan). Comments are due June 1, 2020.  The Plan is required under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Additional chapters will be released on a quarterly basis throughout 2020. More information and a form for comments are available at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ECC_GSP_Chpts1_2.

In announcing the release of the draft chapters, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) General Manager Rick Gilmore explained, “We are happy to be one of the agencies participating in this process. Developing a sustainability plan is an important step in meeting the requirements of SGMA to halt overdraft and support a healthy groundwater basin. We are confident we will be able to achieve the state’s goals well before the 2042 deadline.”

Chapter 1 of the plan provides background information including the purpose of the plan and the sustainability goal. Chapter 1 also includes more about the East Contra Costa agencies that will manage the plan implementation.  Chapter 2 outlines the planning area and the data that is being used to prepare the plan.  It also considers water and land use related topics including current and historic uses and the General Plans guiding land use. Another element is a description of economically disadvantaged areas with in the subbasin. The last section of the chapter describes county wells, permitting and well protection.

The table of contents for the full draft plan is located HERE. Prior to offering comments, reviewers are encouraged to read through the table of contents and learn more about the topics that will be considered in the remaining chapters.  A copy of Chapters 1 & 2 is HERE.

For additional SGMA inquiries, to provide more detailed comments, or to be included on the email list, please contact groundwaterinfo@dcd.cccounty.us.

For a PDF version of this news release, please see below.

SGMA_For Immediate Release 5.7.2020