Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Honored with Statewide Water Award

Monterey, CA (May 10, 2017) – In recognition of its victorious, high-stakes stand to protect some of the oldest water rights in California, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) was honored Wednesday with the 2017 ACWA (Association of California Water Agencies) Excellence in Water Leadership Award.

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 award was presented at ACWA’s Spring Conference in Monterey to BBID GM Rick Gilmore, and BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro, who accepted on behalf of BBID’s Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire District, we extend our deepest appreciation to ACWA for this incredible recognition,” Kagehiro said. “Our fight was not only for BBID, but for districts statewide, whose water rights provide the backbone of the communities we collectively serve.”

“Providing reliable water is the essence of our mission,” Gilmore said. “Though it wasn’t easy, we had no choice but to take the lead, navigating extreme regulatory uncertainty to defend the water supply that is rightfully ours.”

ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs, left, poses with BBID GM Rick Gilmore, center, and BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro.

Amidst harsh drought in 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued unprecedented curtailments, and subsequently accused BBID of taking water when none was available, threatening a $5-plus million fine. BBID’s legal team fought back to preserve the District’s pre-1914 water rights, disproving the state’s arguments. The SWRCB eventually dismissed the case, securing a victory that would resonate throughout California’s water community.

“Byron-Bethany’s district staff and elected officials understood what was at stake for their community,” said ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs. “Their foresight, leadership and ability to build consensus in the face of extreme challenge kept water flowing for the residents, farmers, agricultural workers and families in their multi-county service area.”

BBID was nominated for the Excellence in Water Leadership Award by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), a collective of water agencies representing more than 2 million acres of 29 federal and exchange water service contractors.

“California is blessed to have thousands of dedicated water leaders who make our incredible water management system work so well,” said SLDMWA Executive Director Jason Peltier. “When leadership shines through most clearly is in a time of crisis, and Rick and his Board earned this award by leaning forward into the regulatory machine that now controls so much of our system. It took guts and commitment to secure justice. They did it.”

The 2017 Excellence in Water Leadership Award.

Demonstrating BBID’s deep connection to its community, numerous Letters of support were submitted on BBID’s behalf, including one from Gay Costa of the Mountain House School District.

“Mr. Gilmore, the BBID Board, and their staff went into the hearings with the weight of our farmers, ranchers’ community and this school on their shoulders,” Costa wrote. “The students witnessed a pillar of their community stand up for their right to carry on their family business and continue a culture deep in tradition and pride.”

Farmer Mike Sandhu also wrote in support of the District, “Without BBID’s stand, growers could have been stripped of our livelihoods and driven off our land that, for some of us, goes back generations. Their commitment secured our children’s futures. We have the water we need today – and tomorrow – thanks to BBID.”

Another letter was submitted by former BBID counsel and current in-house counsel for Placer County Water Agency, Dan Kelly.

“While, in certain circles, BBID’s decision to challenge the SWRCB’s curtailments was not popular – it was the courageous thing to do,” Kelly wrote. “Leaders are not people who simply fall in line. Leaders are people who make hard decisions; often unpopular, to achieve the right and just result. Rick Gilmore and the BBID Board of Directors did just that.”

As part of the Excellence in Water Leadership Award, BBID will be privileged to present a $5,000 charitable donation to a non-profit organization of their choosing that works toward the enhancement and protection of California’s water resources.

WATCH: Click below to see BBID accept the 2017 ACWA Excellence in Water Leadership Award!

Water Supply Update: April 2022

Byron, CA (April 15, 2022) – As dry conditions persist across California, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is establishing a regular water supply update to keep its customers informed.

  • Pre-1914 (Senior) Water Right: Currently, BBID’s pre-1914 senior water right is not curtailed. That senior water right provides for reliable water deliveries across much of the District’s service area. However, it is anticipated that curtailments could occur this summer due to drought conditions.
  • West Side Service Area: This area, formerly the West Side Irrigation District, is served by a post-1914 junior water right. This water right is currently not curtailed. Again, it is anticipated that curtailments could occur this summer.
  • Central Valley Project (CVP) Service Area: Currently, South-of-Delta CVP contractors including BBID have a 0% allocation. Earlier this month, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reduced the initial 25% M&I allocation to Public Health & Safety.

BBID will continue to seek alternative water supplies and, when necessary, vigorously defend its water rights. The District and its expert consultants are engaged with the State Water Resources Control Board and the Delta Watermaster to help refine the methodology that provides the basis for water right curtailments.

In the coming weeks and months, the District will provide water supply updates as conditions change.

LVE Project – Monthly Update

Below is the monthly newsletter for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project.

Partner News Letter LVE - March 4 2022

Background: In October 2021, 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.

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

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.

 

BBID Argues Court of Appeals Should Uphold Landmark Water Rights Decision

In the CA 6th District Court of Appeal, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is urging the court to uphold a landmark decision solidifying the oldest water rights in California. Attorneys on behalf of BBID responded to an appeal filed by the State Water Resources Control Board, saying in part:

The Legislature never provided the State Board with the authority it now seeks from this Court. That is, the Legislature did not authorize the State Board to use trespass under Section 1052 as a means to preclude (i.e., curtail) Senior Right holders from diverting water within the scope of their rights, regardless of times of water shortage or surplus. To the contrary, the Legislature has been careful not to extend the right to regulate Senior Rights to the State Board, consistent with the fact that Senior Rights pre- date the State Board’s existence and authority. In addition, no court has interpreted the State Board’s other statutory authority to allow for such curtailment. Through this appeal, though, the State Board asks this Court to legislate from the bench, expanding its authority to curtail Senior Right holders in a manner that the Legislature has repeatedly not granted through the various amendments to Section 1052.

The trial court accurately concluded that the State Board did not have authority to curtail Respondents’ diversions of water under their valid Senior Rights, and this Court should affirm the trial court’s judgments regarding the State Board’s jurisdiction under Section 1052.

Background: The ongoing case is related to a 2015 enforcement action brought by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) against BBID shortly after BBID sued the SWRCB over unlawful curtailment notices issued by the SWRCB to more than a thousand pre-1914 water rights holders, including BBID. Over BBID’s objection, the Santa Clara Court stayed BBID’s lawsuit pending completion of the administrative hearing of the SWRCB’s enforcement action.

The SWRCB’s enforcement action sought enforcement of the curtailment notices against BBID for diverting water when allegedly none was available under its priority of right, and seeking a $5 million fine. On the third day of the administrative hearing before the SWRCB, BBID’s legal team successfully argued that the evidence submitted by the SWRCB litigation team failed to meet its burden of proof, and the SWRCB hearing officer granted BBID’s motion for judgment dismissing the enforcement action.

After the dismissal of the enforcement action, BBID resumed its related lawsuit, and on April 3, 2018, Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Brian Walsh issued his Statement of Decision holding, among other things, that the SWRCB lacks jurisdiction to enforce priority of rights between pre-1914 and riparian water rights. The Court’s ruling solidifies the oldest water rights in California. Judge Walsh also held that the curtailment notices violated BBID’s due process rights because they commanded immediate curtailment of water rights and threatened large fines without providing water right holders an opportunity to challenge the findings upon which the notices were based.

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