Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Commends Hertzberg Senate Committee Appointment

Byron, CA (December 22, 2016) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement:

“Byron-Bethany Irrigation District applauds the selection of Senator Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) as chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee. Senator Hertzberg has spent more than 40 years studying the complexities of California water policy, and is an ideal candidate to help the state’s water community seek solutions in a great time of change.”

“We collectively face unprecedented challenges, from the sixth year of our historic drought, to renewed focus on water efficiency and storage, to the critical balancing of the needs of our cities, agriculture and the environment. Senator Hertzberg has already pushed pilot programs for capturing more stormwater and recycled water, as well as introduced legislation to stop wasteful dumping of treated water into the ocean. We look forward to partnering with him on California water solutions.”

Landmark Water Rights Case Moves Forward

Santa Clara, CA (September 30, 2016) – A historic case brought to protect some of the oldest water rights in California is moving forward. In Santa Clara County Superior Court on Friday, September 30th, Judge Peter Kirwan ruled that there is sufficient legal cause for the case to proceed.

The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) filed the action last June, challenging the unlawful curtailment notices sent to pre-1914 water rights holders, including BBID, by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The unprecedented notices sought to prevent senior water rights holders from lawfully exercising their water rights.

“We are pleased with Judge Kirwan’s decision,”said BBID General Counsel Michael Vergara.“It reflects the gravity and complexity of this case, and refuse s to allow the SWRCB to escape its illegitimate decision to carelessly threaten the livelihood of people and businesses that depend on water from BBID and similarly situated water right holders.”

BBID recently prevailed in a separate administrative hearing before the SWRCB, which brought an enforcement action accusing the District of diverting water when none was available, threatening a $5 million fine. BBID’s legal team argued that careful analysis of the data proved the SWRCB was ultimately incorrect. In June, the SWRCB dismissed its complaint, citing the prosecution team’s failure to prove its case. The action before the Superior Court in Santa Clara was filed by BBID before those proceedings began, and has since been amended to reflect the outcome.

In addition to attempting to bring clarity to – and protect – senior water rights in California, BBID is also seeking to recover its costs of purchasing additional water last year, as well as recover substantial legal fees and other costs associated with the SWRCB’s enforcement action.

SWRCB attorneys argued in court Friday to have the case thrown out, but the judge disagreed. In a procedural ruling, the judge also opted to allow the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public water providers, to become a party in the case.

Meanwhile, BBID has a separate action pending in Sacramento County Superior Court, challenging the SWRCB’s improper assertion of jurisdiction over pre -1914 water rights, as set forth in its dismissal of the enforcement action.

“Grappling with these complex legal issues is part of our duty to protect the water rights that provide the very foundation for our communities,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “These cases have real impacts for not only the multi-generational family farmers in our district, but for senior water rights holders across the state.”

Read the Joint Case Management Conference Statement here.

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Releases Information That Resulted in Subpoena Issued to State Water Resources Control Board

Byron, CA (February 18, 2016) –On February 5, 2016, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) issued subpoenas to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The subpoenas request information regarding SWRCB’s authority to conduct criminal background checks on BBID’s elected board members and/or general manager. The subpoenas were issued because BBID has information indicating the SWRCB requested a criminal background check of one of BBID’s elected Board members, Board President Russell Kagehiro.

On February 8, 2016, the press reported that the SWRCB’s Prosecutor, Andrew Tauriainen, claimed that the subpoenas were “baseless,” suggesting BBID manufactured the facts supporting the subpoenas.

On February 11, 2016, the SWRCB and its Prosecutor responded separately to the subpoenas issued by BBID. The responses provide that the SWRCB does not possess any documents responsive to the subpoena. The SWRCB’s Prosecutor also states that BBID’s request was “unsubstantiated,” and was issued to “harass and distract” the State’s prosecution team.

With no information available from the SWRCB regarding this apparent request for a background check of Mr. Kagehiro, BBID will request that the California Department of Justice conduct an investigation to determine whether a background check on any other BBID elected board members and/or general manager was sought by anyone at the SWRCB.

“This is a clear abuse of power by a state regulatory agency that has gone rogue,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “In addition to an investigation by the Attorney General, BBID will call upon the legislature to conduct legislative hearings into the SWRCB’s conduct.

Read More Here: Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Subpoenas State Water Board Over Criminal Background Check

Indemnification Agreement Reached Between BBID, Mountain House Community Services District

Byron, CA (June 7, 2016) – Byron-Bethany Irrigation District General Manager Rick Gilmore issued the following statement:

“Today an indemnification agreement was reached in principle between Byron-Bethany Irrigation District and Mountain House Community Services District. The agreement will allow water to keep flowing to the Mountain House community by ensuring that Mountain House will accept financial responsibility for any fines or penalties associated with the provision of their water while the state-ordered curtailments remain in place. Without this agreement, BBID would have been forced to shut off water to Mountain House at 12:01am Tuesday, June 23.

While the agreement allows BBID to meet Mountain House’s immediate needs, farmers in the region and the communities that depend upon them still face unprecedented potential impacts to their livelihood as a result of curtailment.”