DWR: Public Comment Period Opens for Groundwater Sustainability Plans

The following news release is from the California Department of Water Resources:

Groundwater sustainability plans that have recently been submitted to the Department are now posted on the DWR SGMA Portal.

These plans are open to public comment for 75 days after the posted date. Below in the table are links to the submitted plans, counties they cover, and the public comment period end date.

Information about how to comment on the plans can be found in a fact sheet in English and Spanish. Public comments are welcomed and encouraged. A SGMA Portal account is not necessary to submit comments.

 

 Basin Local ID (if applicable) Counties Covered Public Comment Period EndDate
Tracy N/A Alameda

San Joaquin

4/23/2022
East Bay Plain N/A Alameda

Contra Costa

4/23/2022
East Contra Costa N/A Contra Costa 4/23/2022
Wyandotte Creek N/A Butte 4/23/2022
Colusa N/A Colusa

Glenn

Yolo

4/23/2022
Corning N/A Glenn

Tehama

4/23/2022
Owens Valley N/A Inyo

Mono

4/23/2022
Big Valley (5-004) N/A Modoc

Lassen

4/23/2022
Santa Monica N/A Los Angeles 4/23/2022
Santa Clara River Valley East N/A Los Angeles 4/23/2022
Turlock N/A Merced

Stanislaus

4/23/2022
East Side Aquifer N/A Monterey 4/23/2022
Forebay Aquifer N/A Monterey 4/23/2022
Upper Valley Aquifer N/A Monterey 4/23/2022
Monterey N/A Monterey 4/23/2022
San Gorgonio Pass N/A Riverside 4/23/2022
Elsinore Valley N/A Riverside 4/23/2022
Temescal N/A Riverside 4/23/2022
Yucaipa N/A Riverside

San Bernardino

4/23/2022
Cosumnes N/A Amador

Sacramento

4/23/2022
Solano N/A Sacramento

Solano

Yolo

4/23/2022
San Pasqual Valley N/A San Diego 4/23/2022
San Luis Obispo Valley N/A San Luis Obispo 4/23/2022
Sierra Valley N/A Plumas

Sierra

4/23/2022
Butte Valley N/A Siskiyou 4/23/2022
Sonoma Valley N/A Sonoma 4/23/2022
Petaluma Valley N/A Sonoma 4/23/2022
Santa Rosa Plain N/A Sonoma 4/23/2022
Fillmore N/A Ventura 4/23/2022
Piru N/A Ventura 4/23/2022

For questions or more information, email sgmps@water.ca.gov.

 

Local Agencies Join to Expand Los Vaqueros Reservoir, Strengthen Regional Water Reliability

Brentwood, CA (November 1, 2021) – Last month, the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project (Project) passed a significant milestone in officially filing agreements needed to form a Joint Powers Authority. This important milestone puts a group of Local Agency Partners one step closer to Project implementation.

The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District is a member agency of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, a Local Agency Project Partner.

Los Vaqueros Reservoir is an off-stream reservoir that was originally built by Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) in 1998. The original reservoir capacity was 100,000 acre-feet and in 2012, CCWD completed the first phase of expansion to hold 160,000 acre-feet.

Expanding Los Vaqueros to a new capacity of 275,000 acre-feet and adding new conveyance facilities will provide environmental, water supply reliability, operational flexibility, water quality and recreational benefits. Those benefits earned the expansion $470 million of the $2.7 billion in water storage investments approved by voters when Proposition 1 passed. The remainder of the project costs will be covered by federal and local partners.

Transforming a local reservoir into a regional facility requires partnerships. Agencies in the Bay Area and Central Valley, serving urban areas, agricultural land and wildlife refuges, have come together to move this expansion forward. A critical step in forming this partnership is the creation of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Joint Powers Authority (JPA).

The JPA establishes the governance of the Project among the partnering agencies and provides the organizational framework for Project design, construction, operation, maintenance and funding. JPA members will bring perspectives from the agency or agencies they represent and work collaboratively to meet the needs of all agencies involved. The JPA will hold its first official public meeting in mid-November.

Looking forward, the Project team is continuing work to secure the necessary permits, approvals and agreements to begin construction. At this point, construction is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2023.

More information about the JPA is available at www.losvaquerosjpa.com.

Additional project information is available below, including a monthly newsletter and project update summary.

Public Forum on Groundwater Management Planned

On September 14th, local agencies including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) are inviting the public to participate in a groundwater workshop. Members of the public will have an opportunity to learn about how their groundwater is being managed sustainably. To learn more about BBID’s role in groundwater management, click here.

Click here to register for next week’s event. The event flyer is below.

GroundwaterWorkshop39.14.21

UPDATE: Water Right Curtailments Set to be Lifted, State Water Board Says

Sacramento, CA (August 31, 2021) – On September 1, 2021, the unprecedented water right curtailments cutting off water supplies to thousands of water users in the Delta and San Joaquin watersheds will expire.

According to the update provided by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), the curtailments, which took effect on August 20, will terminate September 1. The SWRCB’s modeling tool indicates sufficient water will be available for water right holders, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID), to resume diversions.

BBID will resume normal water diversions once the curtailments cease. BBID’s pre-1914 water right, as well as its post-1914 water right serving the District’s West Side Service Area, are both curtailed. The water rate in the WSID Service Area will also revert to the regular 2021 rate.

Last Wednesday, BBID’s technical and legal team, as well as District leadership, met with Delta Watermaster Michael George to express objections to the SWRCB’s methodology used to determine water availability.

BBID, a senior water rights holder south of the Delta, was one of dozens of senior water right holders curtailed in 2015. BBID – facing a $5-plus million fine – prevailed before the SWRCB, proving that the methodology used by the SWRCB was flawed. Though the methodology has been revised since the SWRCB ruled in BBID’s favor in 2016, it still contains fatal flaws.

“This is a very fluid situation,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “We will monitor any informational updates provided by the State Water Board in the coming days and weeks. Ultimately, we remain strongly committed to protecting our water rights and preserving reliable water supplies for our growers, the community of Mountain House and our M&I customers. To that end, we will continue to work collaboratively with the State Water Board to help bring clarity to these critically important decisions.”

Public Workshop Planned for Groundwater Sustainability Plan

This evening, the public is invited to learn more about the plan to manage local groundwater for the long term.

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District and neighborhood water agencies in the Tracy Subbasin are preparing a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) as required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Learn more about SGMA here.

The flyer for tonight’s event is below.

20210810_Tracy_Workshop_Flyer_Bilingual

State Water Board Takes Aim at Agriculture

Sacramento, CA (August 3, 2021) – In a rash action deeply harmful to California’s agricultural community, the State Water Board adopted potentially unlawful emergency regulations based on incomplete, and in some instances, inaccurate information, exposing the agricultural community to billions of dollars in lost economic productivity.

The emergency regulations can support curtailments that prematurely cut off more than 10,000 water right holders in the Delta and San Joaquin watersheds, nearly all of them devoted to providing reliable water for one of our state’s most essential industries: agriculture.

“The State Water Board is attempting to wrest regulatory control over pre-1914 water rights, just as it did during the last drought,” said Russell Kagehiro, Board President of the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID). “By targeting agriculture in the Delta region, the State Water Board is unfairly imposing an enormous burden on those who will sustain the greatest socioeconomic damage, by unfairly threatening thousands of jobs and valuable crops.”

BBID, a senior water rights holder south of the Delta, was one of dozens of senior water rights holders curtailed in 2015. BBID – facing a $5-plus million fine – prevailed before the State Water Board and proved that the methodology used by the State Water Board was flawed.

Just six years later, the State Water Board is again unfairly targeting California agriculture, by threatening to curtail agricultural water use in the Delta, and imperiling thousands of jobs and valuable crops, while urban conservation remains voluntary.

“The Board says its emergency regulations are based on ‘the best information available,’” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “However, the Board’s methodology for determining water availability is built upon a series of flawed assumptions and has been shown by our legal and technical team to be inaccurate.”

Though the methodology has been revised since the State Water Board ruled in favor of BBID in 2016, it still contains fatal flaws. It mistakenly assumes native water resides in the Delta no more than one month, when preliminary modeling shows it resides 2-3 months. It does not account for return flows available to Delta diverters. Its demand data is incomplete, and its demand calculations are duplicative.

“BBID urges the State Water Board to abandon this coercive path and work with growers and irrigation districts,” Kagehiro said. “Shared sacrifice and a more complete understanding of water availability will reduce the severe impacts these regulations will undoubtedly have in some of California’s most vulnerable communities.

“Should the State Water Board continue down this road,” Kagehiro continued, “we will have no choice but to defend our water rights, which are the foundation for reliable water deliveries for multi-generational farming families, M&I customers, and the sole source of supply for the growing community of Mountain House.”

BBID Responds as State Water Board Issues Notice to Cut Off Senior Water Rights

Byron, CA (July 23, 2021) – “Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is aware of the emergency Notice of Water Unavailability impacting senior, pre-1914 water rights, including the District’s, issued by the State Water Resources Control Board this afternoon.

We will vigorously defend our water rights and maintain that the best available data does not support such an extraordinary action by the SWRCB, whose methodology for determining water availability is deeply flawed.

In the coming days and weeks, BBID’s team of legal, engineering, and hydrological experts will seek remedies to protect the customers we serve, including the multi-generational farming families who rely upon the water we provide.” – Rick Gilmore, General Manager

State Cuts Off Water to Thousands of Growers, Water Agencies

Sacramento, CA (June 15, 2021) – In a drastic move, the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) notified thousands of California water agencies, growers, and landowners that their supply of water is cut off.

Yesterday the State Water Board sent water unavailability notices to 4,300 California water holders with post-1914 water rights, also known as junior water rights. This directive impacts San Joaquin County growers and M&I customers in the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District’s (BBID) West Side Service Area.

“We do not believe the best available data nor the State Water Board’s flawed water availability methodology support water right curtailments for post-1914 or pre-1914 water rights,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “We also find it disappointing to initially learn about the State Water Board’s decision to issue notices of water unavailability from the media before receiving direct notice from the State Water Board,” Gilmore said.

BBID’s technical team previously identified several significant flaws with the State Water Board’s methodology, including the use of outdated data from past years instead of real-time information when available. The methodology also neglects to account for the different characteristics of watersheds across the state, including the quantity and quality of available data.

Meanwhile, notices were also sent to 2,300 senior water rights holders (pre-1914 and riparian), including BBID, informing them that similar notices of water unavailability may be sent this summer. The majority of BBID’s service area is supplied by water diverted under a pre-1914 water right.

In 2015, BBID successfully defended its senior water rights against an unprecedented administrative civil liability (ACL) complaint brought by the State Water Board. The complaint alleged BBID diverted water when none was available, threatening a $5-plus million dollar fine. The State Water Board eventually dismissed the complaint when BBID’s legal team demonstrated there was, in fact, water available.

“BBID is actively pursuing all available remedies to ensure reliable water supplies for our customers,” said BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro, “while examining every avenue to protect our foundational water rights. As we have done in the past, we will stand up for the communities we serve.”

Lawsuit Endangers Reliable Water and Food Supply

Byron, CA (June 11, 2021)Legal action initiated by a coalition of California environmental interest groups could disrupt reliable water supplies for nearly 100 water purveyors from Shasta Lake to Sacramento, across the Central Valley, Silicon Valley, and beyond.

In a recent court filing, Restore the Delta, Planning and Conservation League and the Center for Biological Diversity, who had already sued the United States Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) and the United States Department of Interior, named nearly 100 Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID), as defendants. The complaint seeks to invalidate, without cause, CVP water contracts that are foundational to California’s water supply, especially for its agricultural industry that provides more than half of the nation’s fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

The heart of the plantiffs’ case is the “conversion” of CVP contracts from “long-term” or “interim renewal” contracts, which Reclamation would renew upon expiration, to permanent contracts. BBID acted in good faith utilizing a provision in federal legislation known as the WIIN Act to convert its CVP contracts to repayment contracts, carrying a perpetual term.  The purpose of the conversion simply allows BBID, and other CVP contractors, to immediately repay Reclamation a debt obligation; it does not alter the operation of the CVP or the quantity of water that a contractor is entitled to receive.  BBID’s conversion was a common-sense, financially prudent move benefitting the District’s agricultural growers in San Joaquin County.

So, what’s the sticking point? Environmental interests argue Reclamation was legally obligated to perform an intensive ecological review before it converted BBID’s and other contractors’ CVP contracts. And because Reclamation didn’t do so, the complaint argues, those contracts violate the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Here’s the reality. The WIIN Act directs Reclamation to execute these contract conversions when a contractor requests it. In other words, federal law mandates these contract conversions. In any event, the prospect of a lengthy, expensive, and ultimately redundant review process (when other than the method of payment, the substantive contract obligations do not change) is a poor use of taxpayer resources.

The complaint further argues that the new contracts essentially guarantee a CVP contractor its full supply.  In fact, prior to execution of the new contracts, Reclamation rarely provided a 100% allocation to its CVP contractors due to a host of hydrological, regulatory, and environmental factors.     For example, BBID endured three consecutive years of a 0% allocation during the last drought.  This reality will not change with execution of the new contracts.   This year, under the new repayment contracts, BBID’s initial 5% allocation for irrigation was first suspended, and now eliminated altogether in the wake of our second straight dry winter.  This year, water for municipal and industrial purposes has been drastically reduced from 55% to 25%.

We all recognize the great challenges ahead. Instead of lawsuits like these, we must focus on finding common ground and funding meaningful, multi-benefit solutions that balance the beneficial uses of California’s water supply and protect our environmental resources in the face of of diminishing supplies and increasing demand.