News Worth Noting: Court to decide if public trust doctrine applies to groundwater; A unified vision for water and ecosystem studies in California’s Central Valley; Army Corps releases plan for restoring project site after new auxiliary spillway construction

Legal update: Does the Public Trust Doctrine Apply to Groundwater? The California Appellate Courts Will Soon Decide

From Best Best & Kreiger:

BB&K logoThe California appellate courts will soon be called on to decide an important and novel issue of California water law: whether the public trust doctrine applies to groundwater. The public trust doctrine holds that the state possesses sovereign interests in navigable waters, which are held in trust for the public. In National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, the California Supreme Court held that the public trust doctrine applies to the State Water Resources Control Board’s regulation of appropriative water rights in navigable waters, and that the Board is required to consider public trust uses in exercising its statutory authority. The Court also held that — although the public trust doctrine applies only to navigable surface waters — the doctrine also applies to nonnavigable tributaries of the surface waters, to the extent that activities in the tributaries affect public trust uses in the surface waters. The California courts, however, have never faced or decided the question whether the public trust doctrine applies to groundwater. ...

Read more from BB&K Knowledge here:  Does the Public Trust Doctrine Apply to Groundwater? The California Appellate Courts Will Soon Decide

Army Corps releases plan for restoring project site after new auxiliary spillway construction

Army Corps LogoFrom the U. S. Army Corps:

Proposed plans to restore lands disturbed by construction of the new Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway were announced today by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District and Central Valley Flood Protection Board in a draft environmental report available for public review and comment.

The jointly-published draft supplemental environmental assessment/environmental impact report outlines the preferred alternative for conducting site restoration work as part of the spillway project’s fifth and final phase.

Additionally, the document addresses mitigation for prior project impacts to trees and recreational fishing opportunities, addresses potential environmental impacts and mitigation measures associated with the restoration effort and proposes construction of new guardrails along a portion of the Folsom Lake Crossing roadway adjacent to the spillway.

A public meeting will be held Jan. 20, 2016, to discuss the proposed project, answer questions and provide an opportunity for comments to be submitted. The meeting will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Folsom Community Center, located at 52 Natoma Street in Folsom.

Public comments can be submitted through Feb. 19, 2016.

The auxiliary spillway project is being constructed under the Corps’ Folsom Dam Modification Project, also called the Joint Federal Project, to implement dam safety and flood risk reduction features at Folsom Dam and associated facilities to help prevent catastrophic flooding in the Sacramento region. The auxiliary spillway is on track for completion in October 2017.

The draft SEA/EIR can be reviewed at http://bit.ly/FolsomDam.

For more information on the meeting and how to comment, go here:  Corps releases plan for restoring project site after new auxiliary spillway completion

CVIFMS — A unified vision for water and ecosystem studies in California’s Central Valley

Army Corps LogoFrom the Army Corps of Engineers:

Synergy between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, California Department of Water Resources and local government leaders is powering a unified vision to lower flood risk, restore ecosystems and aid water conservation in California’s Central Valley.

Despite its unwieldy title, the Central Valley Integrated Flood Management Study has a razor-sharp focus: start with existing data from previous studies and existing requests (authorities) from Congress and address problems at the watershed level in order to produce systemwide improvements within the Sacramento River Basin.

“CVIFMS is the federal companion to DWR’s 2012 Central Valley Flood Protection Plan,” said Rhiannon Kucharski, lead planner for the Corps. “We’re riding the wave of research momentum that began with the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Basins Comprehensive Study of 2002 and continued with several related studies in the Central Valley.”

The Corps released a draft watershed plan Dec. 9, 2015, for an informal public review through Jan. 15, 2016. The same document is also undergoing agency technical review and South Pacific Division planning and policy review.

For purposes of the study, the Sacramento River watershed was divided into 50 opportunity areas. Within each area, possible measures were evaluated for efficiency in meeting flood risk management, ecosystem restoration and water supply objectives, and for cost effectiveness and policy compliance.

Four near-term studies have been identified as having tremendous potential:
• examine inland effects of climate change;
• San Joaquin River watershed study (CVIFMS Part II);
• Central Valley reservoir re-operation study; and
• Middle and Upper Sacramento River Basin study.

The Central Valley re-operation study would be a comprehensive investigation to optimize operation of reservoirs within the entire Central Valley to maximum benefits in flood risk management, ecosystem restoration and water supply, incorporating weather forecasts and climate change analysis.

“The re-operation study is especially appealing, since it has the potential to improve flood risk management and water conservation without new infrastructure investments,” said Kucharski.

Mid- to long-term studies suggested by CVIFMS include:
• non-structural flood plain management services;
• Upper American River and tributaries study; and
• ecosystem restoration studies under continuing authorities or tribal partnerships.

A final watershed plan is scheduled to be released by mid-March 2016, completing the initial high-level analysis before future, more-focused studies can identify specific projects.

“CVIFMS provides the compass to understand which direction we’re going, but future studies will more clearly chart the path to implement some of the opportunities we’ve identified,” said Kucharski.

The goal is for local government and agencies to see where the Corps is going and want to help pave the path to making some of the projects a reality.

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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