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.
Byron-Bethany Irrigation District is a member agency of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.
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.
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.
[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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a PDF version of this news release, please see below.SGMA_For Immediate Release 5.7.2020
On Tuesday, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt addressed recent litigation filed by the State of California, in relation to the operations of the state and federal water projects.
In the below letter addressed to Senator Dianne Feinstein, Sec. Bernhardt responded to recent letters written by Governor Newsom and Senator Feinstein regarding California water management.CVP-Response-to-Sen.-Feinstein
Byron, CA (March 27, 2020) – At the outset of the growing season, crews with Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) are maintaining operations. Water deliveries for our growers will continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and the District’s water supplies are not impacted.
The District is following all CDC recommendations to help combat the spread of the virus. BBID has instituted management practices to protect employees, all of whom serve essential functions for the District. Staff are working remotely when possible, and field crews are following social distancing guidelines.
“We are all in this together,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “While we do our part to keep our crews and communities safe from COVID-19, we are also ensuring reliable water deliveries continue to support agriculture, an essential industry.”
LOS BANOS, CA – Cannon Michael, a 6th generation California farmer was re-elected chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (Authority). Michael is president of Bowles Farming Company, a family owned and operated farming company headquartered in Los Banos. Michael also serves as chair of the Henry Miller Reclamation District, is a board member with the Water Education Foundation and serves as an advisory board member of the Public Policy Institute of California.
Following his re-election, Michael said, “The Authority plays a critical role in managing a significant part of the Central Valley Project. It is a big responsibility to oversee the operations that bring project water to over a million acres of farmland, 2 million California residents and important wildlife refuges along the Pacific Flyway.
“It is very rewarding to work with a great group of directors who have the knowledge and skill to solve complex water issues. Our board is supported by a tremendous group of employees who work tirelessly to make sure water is delivered safely, reliably, and efficiently.
“It is an honor to work with our member agencies who represent urban, agricultural and environmental uses of water, and all work on innovative solutions to improve water reliability for their areas,” he said.
Elected to serve as vice-chair of the Authority is William Bordeau. Bordeau is Executive Vice President of farming operations for Harris Farms and is a board member of the Westlands Water District. Bordeau also serves as chairman of the Valley Future Foundation, the California Water Alliance, and serves on the board of the Agricultural Foundation at California State University, Fresno. He replaces former Westlands Water District Chairman Don Peracchi.
Bordeau said, “It is an honor to serve in this leadership capacity on the Authority board of directors. There are critical needs within the communities in the San Joaquin and Santa Clara valleys. Having access to reliable water supplies lies at the heart of their economies and quality of life. We take that responsibility seriously and strive to do it as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Bowles Farming Company is an organic and conventional farm growing fresh market and processing tomatoes, field crops including corn, melons, carrots and onions, alfalfa for local dairies and other commodities such as durum wheat for bread, pima cotton, pistachios and almonds. Other activities include managing wetlands and habitat restoration on the family farm.
Harris Farms is a diversified farming and hospitality company founded in 1937 and based near Coalinga, California.
Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a member agency of the Authority.
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The San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority serves 28 member public agencies, 25 of which contract with Reclamation for water supply from the CVP. These agencies deliver water to approximately 1.2 million acres of farmland, 2 million California residents, and millions of waterfowl dependent upon the nearly 200,000 acres of managed wetlands within the Pacific Flyway.
Sacramento, CA (February 25, 2020) – Today, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) issued an initial water supply allocation of 15% for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID).
After a promising start to winter, dry conditions have returned across California. It has rained more in February in Death Valley than in Sacramento. The statewide snowpack is below average, and the long-range forecast indicates the lack of rain and snowfall may continue.
“While we certainly wish Reclamation was able to issue a higher allocation, we recognize they must be responsive to our state’s current conditions,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “The looming threat of the next drought underscores the need for adaptative water management. Implementing the new biological opinions abandons an outdated, restrictive approach in favor of real-time, cutting-edge science to best meet the needs of cities, farms and the environment.”
For the first time in a decade, updated biological opinions were issued last week. Those federal rules govern water use through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Had those biological opinions been in place last year, it is estimated that the projects would have been able to save more than one-million acre-feet of additional water. That would be tremendously valuable in any year, but especially in a dry one like 2020. At a 15% allocation, growers in BBID’s CVP service area will have a baseline water supply of just 0.51 acre-feet of water per acre – down from 3.4 acre-feet per acre with a full allocation.
“This initial allocation also underlines the need for investment in our water systems, including increasing storage to save more water during wet years for use during dry ones; and more conveyance to move water more flexibly, ensuring reliability in the face of increasingly unpredictable, extreme weather patterns.”
Byron, CA (February 18, 2020) – On Tuesday, the representatives from the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) addressed the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) Board of Directors, describing how understaffing challenges are impacting multiple communities, including some of those in BBID’s service area.
The ECCFPD serves a 249-square mile area encompassing Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Marsh Creek, Morgan Territory, Byron, Knightsen, and surrounding rural communities. The District is an independent special district.
Today, District Fire Chief Brian Helmick explained that ECCFPD faces serious challenges: the District operates three fire stations, each staffed by three firefighters, for a total of nine firefighters at any given time – an inadequate amount of staffing for a community of 115,000 people. Chief Helmick said that ECCFPD is critically underfunded.
ECCFPD highlighted two main problems: past growth without adequate funding, and projected future growth which will place even greater demand on fire services. Chief Helmick delivered this presentation detailing the situation. He also shared the below video with BBID Directors.
“We appreciate ECCFPD taking the time to further educate our Board about this important issue impacting the region,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “We support their efforts to strengthen critical fire protection in BBID’s service area.”
ECCFPD is conducting a region-wide outreach effort, educating community members and other stakeholders about how to get involved. To learn more, please visit www.eccfpd.org.