BBID Urges Gov. Brown to Sign AB 313

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District is urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign landmark legislation restoring due process for the state’s water rights holders.

BBID prepared the following letter in support of Assembly Bill 313. Lawmakers decisively passed the bill on the final day of the Legislative session. Introduced by Adam Gray (D-Merced), AB 313 now awaits Governor Brown’s signature.

BBID Sign AB 313 Support Letter

Turlock Journal: Water Rights Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature

From the Turlock Journal:

A landmark passage of water rights legislation occurred over the weekend when Assemblyman Adam Gray’s Assembly Bill 313 received final approval on the last day of the legislative session – the next-to-final step toward becoming law for the bill, which requires that unbiased administrative law judges conduct water rights enforcement hearings, rather than the State Water Board.

Read more below.

Turlock Journal - Water Rights Bill Awaits Governor's Signature (9.19.17)

Modesto Bee: Law Would Bring Fairness to Water Board Disputes

On September 17th, The Modesto Bee penned an editorial calling on the public to urge Governor Brown to sign Assembly Bill 313, water rights reform legislation supported by Byron-Bethany Irrigation District.

The Bee says, “AB313 is all about one thing – fairness.”

AB 313 passed in the Senate on the final day of the Legislative session and now awaits the Governor’s signature.

9-17-17 - Law would bring fairness to water board disputes | The Modesto Bee

BBID-Backed Water Reform Bill Passes, Securing Key Victory for Water Rights Holders

Sacramento, CA (September 16th, 2017) – In a resounding victory for fairness and good governance, lawmakers decisively passed a major water reform bill on the final day of the Legislative session. Assembly Bill 313, introduced by Adam Gray (D-Merced) and backed by Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID), makes critical changes to restore due process for the state’s water rights holders.

“We congratulate Assemblyman Gray for successfully championing this issue. The passage of this bill secures a victory for California’s communities that rely upon foundational water rights for the lifeline of reliable water,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “AB 313 received strong, bipartisan support from the get-go, a clear sign this issue stretched across party lines. Thanks to Assemblyman Gray’s leadership, AB 313 is one signature away from becoming law.”

BBID provided technical support in crafting the bill, which removes built-in conflicts of interest by establishing a new water rights management structure. AB 313 requires unbiased, administrative law judges to hear all water rights matters in a newly-created Water Rights Division in the Office of Administrative Hearings. The shift ensures these often complicated, controversial matters are heard by a neutral body.

Currently, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) exercises near-comprehensive control over California’s water rights. The SWRCB writes regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and conducts hearings in its own courtroom in which Board staff act as the prosecution and Board members act as judge and jury.

In a statement posted on his website, Assemblyman Gray said, “The region I represent is the target of a massive water grab from the State Water Resources Control Board. A water grab of this size would cost the local economy hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite receiving thousands of comments refuting the faulty science contained in their report, and repeated requests from community leaders to fully consider the impact of jeopardizing the drinking water supply of thousands of people, the water board is poised to dismiss our concerns and adopt the report. If there is any lesson this fight has taught me, it is that the Legislature has handed far too much power over to bureaucrats who simply do not care about the people I represent.”

Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) represents the 21st Assembly District, encompassing all of Merced County and portions of Stanislaus County.

“Throughout my time in the legislature, I have been working to restore fairness and create checks on the power of unelected bureaucrats on the State Water Board,” continued Gray. “The passage of AB 313 is a step in the right direction. This bill levels the playing field by ensuring that water rights holders receive the same due process and objectivity that our justice system promises everyone – nothing more, nothing less.”

AB 313’s productive transfer of power eliminates any potential duplicative efforts for any similar hearings and responsibility to fall under the SWRCB.

The bill now heads to Governor Brown’s desk for his signature.

BBID Makes Donation to New California Water Web Initiative

Byron, CA (August 21, 2017) – On Monday, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) announced it will present a charitable donation to help fund a new online initiative to bring California water together, the California Water Library. The new website will be a one-stop shop for thousands of water industry reports, articles, research and much more. BBID’s $5,000 donation will help with the site’s development as it nears its launch. The project is the brainchild of Chris Austin, founder of Maven’s Notebook, the widely-read water industry blog.

“The California Water Library will provide easy, organized access to information about California water, including industry reports, journal articles, scientific research, legal rulings, maps, images, and more so that scientists, policy makers, and managers working in the California’s water industry can access the information needed to make informed decisions about the state’s most precious natural resource,” Austin said. “The California Water Library fills an unmet need within the California water community by consolidating a broad set of content in one, easy-to-use website.”

“It’s an honor to support such a worthwhile project that will change the way we talk about California water,” BBID GM Rick Gilmore said. “In today’s fast-paced water world, having one place to go for the latest reports and research will make an instantaneous impact in keeping us all better-informed. This is a game changer.”

BBID GM Rick Gilmore, left, visits with Chris Austin of Maven’s Notebook, center, and her son Noah, at District Headquarters.

As part of winning the 2017 Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Excellence in Water Leadership Award, BBID was honored to award a $5,000 charitable donation to a non-profit organization of the District’s choosing that works toward the enhancement and protection of California’s water resources. The donation is furnished by the Black & Veatch Corporation.

BBID was chosen for the award in recognition of its victorious, high-stakes stand to protect some of the oldest water rights in California. 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 California Water Library (www.cawaterlibrary.net) is expected to launch in the coming weeks.

BBID-Backed Water Reform Bill Passes Assembly

Sacramento, CA (May 30, 2017) – On Tuesday, the California State Assembly overwhelmingly passed a major water bill backed by Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). Assembly Bill 313, introduced earlier this year by Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) to reestablish balance and fairness for California’s water rights holders, was passed with a 64-4 vote. BBID provided technical support in crafting the bill, which makes significant repairs to California’s broken water management structure.

“Assemblyman Gray’s visionary leadership brought this critical, statewide issue to the forefront – and today’s decisive action signals that lawmakers agree it’s time to fix our broken system,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “State agencies shouldn’t have unchecked power and little accountability, preventing water rights holders from being treated with the foundational fairness our justice system promises one and all. AB 313 balances the scales.”

The bill establishes a new water rights management structure, creating a new Water Rights Division in the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) to handle all water rights matters. Currently, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) exercises near-comprehensive control over California’s water rights. The SWRCB writes regulations, initiates enforcement actions, and conducts hearings in its own courtroom in which Board staff act as the prosecution and Board members act as judge and jury.

“As BBID itself has experienced, that structure’s built-in conflicts of interest and biases result in an unfair process,” Gilmore said.

Under AB 313, all quasi-adjudicative matters involving water rights would be decided upon by administrative law judges in the new Water Rights Division, which would conduct hearings neutrally. The bill ensures all hearings regarding the issuance of administrative civil liability (ACL) and cease-and- desist orders (CDO) involving water rights are to be held in the new Water Rights Division, rather than the SWRCB. This productive transfer of power eliminates any potential duplicative efforts for any similar hearings and responsibility to fall under the SWRCB.

Prior to Tuesday’s vote, AB 313 previously passed out of the Assembly policy and fiscal committees without a single “no” vote. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it will be considered in the coming weeks.

“This is a big step in the right direction for California water,” said BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro. “Should this bill become law, communities across the state will have a more secure water supply.”