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!

Trump Administration Advances Plan to Increase San Luis Reservoir Storage

The following news release was originally issued by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (Water Authority). The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District is a member agency of the Water Authority.

san luis reservoir and b f sisk damSACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the Bureau of Reclamation sent Congress the final feasibility report for the B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Project. This marks an important step forward in returning water supply reliability to south-of-Delta farmers, local communities, and wildlife refuges.

“Reclamation has worked hard to make this important project for California’s water supply a reality,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman. “Dam safety improvements at B.F. Sisk are gearing up; now is the time to take advantage of this opportunity and increase water supply in San Luis Reservoir—a win-win for the many that benefit from San Luis Reservoir water.”

Reclamation and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority partnered to investigate adding 10-feet to the crest of B.F. Sisk Dam while implementing dam safety modifications. The additional space would be used to store water that could be delivered to south-of-Delta water contractors and wildlife refuges. This water would be used to meet existing contractual obligations and not serve any new demands.

The B.F. Sisk Dam Raise and Reservoir Expansion Feasibility Report was prepared consistent with pertinent study authorizations, and pursuant to the requirements of Reclamation Safety of Dams Act of 1978, as amended by Public Law 114-113, and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act of 2016. Results of the analyses indicate the project to be technically, environmentally, financially and economically feasible.

“While there is still work to be done,” said Regional Director Ernest Conant, “Reclamation and our partner, the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, are very pleased to witness this critical milestone for the project.”

“San Luis Reservoir plays an important role as a lynchpin of California’s water system. The reservoir’s water storage capacity is increasingly important to respond to a changing climate. Increasing water storage is a critical component of building water resilience,” said Executive Director of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Federico Barajas. “We appreciate the collaborative partnership with Reclamation and are pleased to see the Feasibility Report be transmitted to Congress and look forward to advancing this important project.”

Background
B.F. Sisk Dam is a 382-foot high earthfill embankment located on the west side of the Central Valley, about 12 miles west of Los Banos. The dam is over 3 miles long and impounds San Luis Reservoir, which has a current total capacity of around 2 million acre-feet.

A final supplemental environmental impact statement was prepared for the project under the National Environmental Policy Act and released on Dec. 18, 2020; the report is available here: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=44425.

Update: State-of-the-Art Test Reveals Critical Pipeline in Good Condition (VIDEO)

Byron, CA (December 16, 2020) – A new report released by Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) details the condition of a critical District pipeline following a cutting-edge comprehensive test.

The report, prepared by BBID’s engineering firm, Hazen & Sawyer, reveals the Mountain House Raw Water Pipeline – the sole source of water to the community of Mountain House – is in good condition.

Watch the full update below!

Report Highlights: 

  • The results reveal the success of the proactive maintenance that BBID has been performing on the MHRWP for the last 20 years.
  • Considering the aggressive soils, cyclical operation, high operating pressures, and turbid water handled by the pipeline, less than 1% of pipe segments were found to have any anomaly.
  • Generally, the pipeline was found to be in good condition.

Read the full report here.

 

 

Public Review Sought for Groundwater Sustainability Plan Sections

The East Contra Costa Groundwater Sustainability Working Group is preparing a Draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (Plan) and seeks input on Sections 3 and 4 of the Plan. The East Contra Costa Groundwater Subbasin is a medium priority subbasin, as determined by the State, and requires preparation of a Plan under the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a member of the Subbasin.

The Groundwater Sustainability Agencies received comments on Sections 1 and 2 of the Draft Plan during the summer of 2020. We are now asking for input on Sections 3 and 4 that discuss groundwater conditions, including a Hydrological Conceptual Model and historical, current and projected water supply. Sections 3 and 4 are found at the link below, or email groundwaterinfo@dcd.cccounty.us and request the documents. Comments are due on Friday, January 15, 2021.

Link to document and other information: https://www.eccc-irwm.org/about-sgma

For additional SGMA inquiries, to provide more detailed comments, or to be included on the email list, please send an email. Or, click here for more information about how BBID is working to sustainably manage groundwater.

District Holds First Board Meeting After Historic Merger

Byron, CA (September 29, 2020) – Two century-old irrigation districts in the Tracy area have officially joined forces. In a landmark moment Tuesday, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) held its first regular board meeting since consolidating with the West Side Irrigation District (WSID).

In the early 1900s, the two districts kept handwritten board meeting minutes. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting was held virtually via Zoom.

“This is the culmination of several years of work to bring these two districts together, for the benefit of our growers,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore. “In today’s challenging regulatory climate, this consolidation will improve water reliability, strengthen water rights, and provide greater financial flexibility to keep our water system performing well into the future.”

In June, the San Joaquin Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) voted unanimously in favor of consolidating the districts. The former 6,000-acre WSID service area West of Tracy was incorporated into the existing 30,000-acre service area of BBID, establishing a single 36,000-acre district.  Former WSID Directors Tom Pereira and Jack Alvarez have become BBID Board Directors in newly created Divisions XIII and IX, respectively. The former boundaries of WSID are now known as the West Side Service Area. All former WSID employees have become BBID staff.

“This is a great step forward that will keep our farmers in business,” said Jack Alvarez, former WSID Board President and new BBID Board Director. “We are stronger together, with a greater ability to manage costs and provide reliable water deliveries.”

The merger has been in the works since 2016, when both districts first voted to move forward and BBID began managing WSID operations. Landowners expressed their strong support at a public meeting held at the outset of the process. Last year, LAFCO adopted a final Municipal Service Review (MSR) and Sphere of Influence (SOI) prepared by both districts, which includes an extensive review of financial information, infrastructure, and services provided.

BBID previously merged with the Plain View Water District in 2004.

Opposition Letter: AB 3030 “Costly, Confusing, and Likely Contentious State Policy”

On Thursday, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) joined a coalition of water agencies expressing opposition to AB 3030 (Kalra), unless amended.

The bill is related to land and water conservation goals, but would create a costly, confusing, and likely contentious state policy that would fail to promote the collaboration necessary to achieve meaningful conservation in California.

Read the District’s full letter below.

AB 3030 – Oppose Unless Amended

USBR: Trump Administration Advances Plan to Increase Water Reliability in Bay Area and Central Valley

The following news release was originally posted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a partner in the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation has released the Final Feasibility Report, which documents potential costs and benefits of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project. As part of a continuing effort to increase storage capability throughout California, Reclamation and the Contra Costa Water District worked together on Phase 2 of the project to increase the capacity from 160,000 acre-feet up to 275,000 acre-feet and adding new conveyance facilities.

In October 2018, President Trump issued the Memorandum on Promoting the Reliable Supply and Delivery of Water in the West. Reclamation, together with its partners, is acting on that call and taking action to improve water supply reliability throughout the state.

“We are pleased to partner with CCWD on this smart expansion project that would create additional storage capacity in an existing footprint,” said Commissioner Brenda Burman. “This is a win-win for the Bay Area and the Central Valley Project.”

This expansion could provide increased water supply reliability and operational flexibility to the Central Valley Project. In addition, the expansion would deliver water supplies to various Bay Area municipal and industrial water providers, as well as federally-recognized wildlife refuge areas and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley.

“This is a significant milestone for the Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Project and project partners,” said CCWD Board President Lisa Borba. “We are grateful for our partnership with Reclamation as we move forward to make this important investment in water storage a reality.”

“As a potential beneficiary of the expanded storage and improved conveyance facilities, the Del Puerto Water District commends both Reclamation and CCWD’s efforts to bring LVRE to this important milestone, said Del Puerto Water District General Manager Anthea Hansen. Water infrastructure, especially expanded storage capacity and improved connectivity between different regions of our state, are foremost on the minds of water managers in California. I am truly impressed with the excellent work of the CCWD team and look forward to hopefully being a part of this much-needed project, not only for my region but for the health and prosperity of our wonderful state.”

The LVE is a joint investigation between Reclamation and CCWD authorized by Congress in 2003. The objectives of the expansion are to develop water supplies for environmental water management, increase water supply reliability for water providers within the San Francisco Bay Area, and improve the quality of water deliveries to municipal and industrial customers. The Final Feasibility Report was transmitted to Congress on August 11.

The Final Feasibility Report is available on Reclamation’s website at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/vaqueros/.

BBID Launches New Public Financing Authority

Byron, CA (August 12, 2020) – In a collaborative effort to help public agencies, cities and counties secure funding for public purpose projects, the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) has partnered to launch the California Municipal Public Financing Authority (CalMuni PFA or Authority).

The CalMuni PFA was established to issue tax-exempt and taxable conduit revenue bonds. The Authority will help lower costs and streamline the execution of critical infrastructure projects, bolstering water efficiency and reliability across California. BBID is one of two charter members of the newly formed Joint Powers Authority (JPA), which held its inaugural Board meeting last Tuesday.

“With the formation of the CalMuni PFA, special districts, cities and counties now have easier access to critically important, cost-effective funding mechanisms that will help support water reliability and resilience,” said BBID General Manager Rick Gilmore.

The CalMuni PFA financing team boasts decades of experience working with municipal banks and lenders, ensuring the financing process is completed expediently and public agency resources are used in the most efficient manner.

The purposes the CalMuni PFA may serve include financing or refinancing of capital improvement projects or working capital projects; the purchase of property or equipment; liability or other insurance, or retirement programs; or facilitating Members use of existing or new financial instruments and mechanisms.

The Independent Cities Finance Authority is the second charter member. The statewide JPA has dozens of member cities across the state and focuses primarily on health care and affordable housing projects in California.

Reclamation Announces 60-Day Comment Period for Draft Contracts for Central Valley Project South-of-Delta Contractors

The following news release was originally posted here on the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation website:

FRESNO, Calif. – The Bureau of Reclamation announced today ongoing congressionally mandated contract conversions pursuant to the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act).

Today’s release includes draft repayment contracts from the Central Valley Project south-of-delta contractors for a 60-day public comment period. These are 15 of over 80 repayment contract conversions requested by federal Central Valley Project contractors.

The contractors include Banta-Carbona Irrigation District, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, Contra Costa Water District, Del Puerto Water District, Eagle Field Water District, Mercy Springs Water District, The West Side Irrigation District, West Stanislaus Irrigation District, Westlands Water District – Assignment from Oro Loma Water District, Fresno Slough Water District, James Irrigation District, Patterson Irrigation District, Reclamation District No. 1606, Tranquility Irrigation District, and Tranquility Public Utility District.

Reclamation plans to release additional draft repayment contracts with south-of-delta contractors, as applicable for public review in 2020. Reclamation will continue to release more draft repayment contracts throughout the year. Section 4011 of the WIIN Act directs Reclamation to convert water service contracts to repayment contracts upon a contractor’s request and authorizes prepayment of outstanding CVP construction costs.

Under Section 4011, full repayment is due within three years of the contract conversion. Both the prepayment and accelerated repayment of the contracts will result in the federal government being repaid well in advance of the original repayment deadline. These dollars will be placed in an account to fund much-needed storage projects. Increasing storage capacity will allow Reclamation’s projects to capture additional water in wet years to help meet the water needs for project purposes in dry years.

Written comments on this contract must be received by close of business on August 31, 2020 and sent to Erma Leal, South Central California Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation, 1243 N Street, Fresno CA 93721 or faxed to 559-262-0371 or emailed to eleal@usbr.gov.

Check the following links to learn more about WIIN Act CVP contract conversions: All negotiated contracts are available at: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/negotiated-conversion-contracts.html.

The entire list of contract conversion requests can be viewed here: https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/docs/the-wiin-act-9d-conversion-tracker.xlsx. View contract and WIIN Act information at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/wiin-act/. Contact Erma Leal for more information at 559-262-0350 or eleal@usbr.gov or (TTY 800-877-8339).