Dwindling Snowpack, Regulations Lead to Zero CVP Water for Growers

Sacramento, CA (February 23, 2022) – On the heels of record-low precipitation in January and February, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) issued an initial water supply allocation of 0% for South-of-Delta Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors, including the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID).

Exceptionally dry conditions have returned to the Sierra after record snowfall in late fall and early winter. The statewide snowpack is dwindling, CVP reservoirs are low, and the long-range forecast promises little relief.

“The allocation announcement is disappointing because it represents another significant challenge for our growers in the District’s CVP Service Area,” said BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro. “We understand Reclamation is constrained not only by Mother Nature, but by regulatory obligations imposed by the State Water Resources Control Board that we believe disproportionally and ineffectively prioritize the needs of the environment over our state’s food supply.”

“This is the fourth time in the last decade that South-of-Delta CVP contractors have received a 0% allocation,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “As we have said time and again, the lack of available water during times of drought underscores the need to invest in our aging water systems and enact collaborative policy to ensure a sustainable water supply. If this is our new normal, we must adapt.”

The District is joining its local, regional and state partners in exploring regulatory solutions that balance the needs of California’s cities, agriculture and environment, while simultaneously pursuing additional water supplies for growers in BBID’s CVP Service Area.

Reclamation also announced an initial 25% allocation for its South-of-Delta Municipal and Industry (M&I) contractors, including those in the BBID’s service area. Reclamation will continue to evaluate hydrologic conditions as the year progresses and may announce changes as conditions warrant.

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

East Bay Plain N/A Alameda

Contra Costa

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



Corning N/A Glenn


Owens Valley N/A Inyo


Big Valley (5-004) N/A Modoc


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


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

Cosumnes N/A Amador


Solano N/A Sacramento



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


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.


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.


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.”