News Worth Noting: State Water Board to consider adoption of measurement & reporting reg; West Side Irrigation District and Byron-Bethany Irrigation District proceedings consolidated; Enviro docs for unreleased San Joaquin River Restoration flows; Adaptive management plan for Glen Canyon Dam

State Water Resources Control Board to consider adoption of measurement and reporting regulation for water diversions over 10 acre-feet per year

SWRCB logo water boardsIn June of 2015, Governor Brown signed SB 88 which authorized the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt regulations adding measurement and reporting requirements for water right holders diverting 10 acre-feet or more per year. At the January 19th meeting of the State Water Resources Control Board, the Board is set to consider adoption of that emergency regulation.

The proposed regulation would implement a tiered system with larger diverters required to begin reporting this year while mid to small size diverters would be given extra time; the frequency of measurement varies from hourly to monthly based on diversion size. The new requirement would affect about 12,000 diverters.

West Side Irrigation District and Byron-Bethany Irrigation District proceedings consolidated at the State Water Board

SWRCB logo water boardsThe State Water Resources Control Board has consolidated the cases against West Side Irrigation District and Byron-Bethany Irrigation District. A pre-hearing conference set for February 8th with Phase 1 of the hearing set to open on March 21st.

The purpose of the first phase of the hearing is to determine if there was water available under the Byron-Bethany Irrigation District and West Side Irrigation District’s water rights.

Remaining issues, such as whether to impose $1.5 million in administrative civil liabilities against Byron Bethany Irrigation District and whether to adopt a Cease and Desist Order against West Side Irrigation District, will be dealt with in Phase 2, which will commence upon completion of Phase 1.

Read the rescheduled meeting notice here.

Now Available: Draft EA for the Delivery and Use of Unreleased San Joaquin River Restoration Flows

From the San Joaquin River Restoration Program:

sjrrpThe Bureau of Reclamation has released for public review a Draft Environmental Assessment for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s (SJRRP) 10-year plan to sell and exchange Unreleased Restoration Flows (or URFs).

The URFs are generated when SJRRP Restoration Flows cannot be released due to channel capacity constraints. Per the settlement in Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Kirk Rodgers, et al., URFs will be used to best serve the SJRRP, to include selling or exchanging the water, with priority given to Friant Division long-term contractors.

Since its inception, the SJRRP has been actively addressing downstream constraints that limit Restoration Flows. The quantity of URFs in future years is expected to decline as channel capacity constraints are improved.

The Draft EA was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act and is available at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=24235. If you encounter problems accessing the document, please call 916-978-5100 (TTY 800-877-8339) or email mppublicaffairs@usbr.gov.

Comments are due by close of business Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Please send comments to Chad Moore, Bureau of Reclamation, 2800 Cottage Way, MP-170, Sacramento, CA 95825. Comments may also be faxed to Moore at 916-978-5469 or emailed to cmoore@usbr.gov. For additional information or to request a copy of the document, please call 916-978-5467 (TTY 800-877-8339).

The SJRRP is a comprehensive long-term effort to restore San Joaquin River flows from Friant Dam to its confluence with the Merced River, and restore a self-sustaining Chinook salmon population, while reducing or avoiding adverse water supply impacts from its Restoration Flows. More information is available at www.restoresjr.net.

Department of the Interior Proposes Adaptive Management Framework for Glen Canyon Dam

Proposed roadmap to provide certainty, predictability for water and power users, protects environmental and cultural resources 

From the US Department of the Interior:

DOIThe U.S. Department of the Interior today released a proposed framework for adaptively managing Glen Canyon Dam over the next 20 years with the goal of creating certainty and predictability for power and water users while protecting environmental and cultural resources in Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River ecosystem. The draft environmental impact statement (EIS) is available to the public for review and comment for 90 days.

“This document is the result of incredible collaboration and cooperation; bringing together diverse stakeholders of the Colorado River to provide certainty, clarity and predictability around the management and operation of Glen Canyon Dam, so that we can better protect the national treasure of Grand Canyon National Park while continuing to provide water and power to millions across the southwestern United States,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor. “Today’s release of a draft proposal for the long-term experimental and management plan of Glen Canyon Dam is based on the latest available science, but public participation is paramount to this process so we encourage all interested parties to join us in this effort to adaptively manage these resources over the next two decades.”

The National Park Service and the Bureau of Reclamation led examination of seven possible alternatives in the draft EIS, including a preferred alternative that would provide assurances for water and power users while mitigating adverse impacts on Grand Canyon National Park. Research and proposed experimental actions under the plan will preserve and improve the resources in Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon while continuing to ensure that water and power needs are met.

“This is a major step toward enhancing our stewardship of the waters of the Colorado River,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Estevan López. “Now is the time for the public to make their voices heard. Public participation is an integral part of this planning process and the successful management of the dam for the future.”

The high-flow experimental releases of water from the dam considered in the draft EIS are designed to mimic the natural flooding of the Colorado River through the Glen and Grand canyons that occurred before the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Sand stored in the river channel is picked up by high-volume water releases from the dam and re-deposited in downstream reaches as sandbars and beaches. These sand features and associated backwater habitats can provide key fish and wildlife habitat, potentially reduce erosion of archaeological sites, restore and enhance riparian vegetation, increase beaches, and enhance wilderness values along the Colorado River in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park.

The preferred alternative identified in the draft EIS continues the high-flow experiments carried out in recent years to help restore the natural ecosystem, but enables continued adaptations and establishes criteria to trigger future releases, which will create certainty and predictability for water users and other stakeholders along the Colorado River.

“Public participation is key to fulfilling our stewardship responsibilities as envisioned under the Grand Canyon Protection Act,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “The long-term planning process has given us and our stakeholders the opportunity to use the past 20 years of scientific information to guide decisions for the next 20 years.”

Reclamation and the National Park Service began developing the draft EIS for this framework in 2011. The draft EIS and all its alternatives will be the subject of extensive public hearings and discussion before the comment period closes on April 7, 2016, laying the groundwork for preparation of a final EIS. To submit a comment, visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/LTEMPEIS. For more information about the draft EIS, visit
http://ltempeis.anl.gov.

 

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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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