News Worth Noting: LAO report on the State’s drought response and budget proposals; Governor announces reappointments to SWRCB & CVFPB; Final enviro docs for SJRRP projects; New water conservation reg and desal

The 2016-2017 budget: The State’s drought response

From the Legislative Analyst’s Office: 

LAO logoDespite welcome storms early this winter, statewide drought conditions appear far from over. This report (1) describes the current drought and its impacts across the state, (2) summarizes the state’s drought response appropriations and activities thus far, (3) assesses the Governor’s drought-related budget proposals for 2016-17, and (4) recommends steps the Legislature can take to address drought both in the coming year and the future.

Click here to read the report.

Governor Brown announces reappointments to State Water Board and Central Valley Flood Protection Board

From the Office of the Governor:

Steven Moore, 49, of Sausalito, has been reappointed to the State Water Resources Control Board, where he has served since 2012. Moore was a civil and sanitary engineer at Nute Engineering from 2006 to 2012. He served as chief of planning at the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board from 2002 to 2006, where he was planning staff from 1999 to 2002 and a water resources control engineer from 1992 to 1996. Moore was a senior engineer at Montgomery Watson Consulting Engineers from 1997 to 1998 and an environmental analyst and biologist at Earth Metrics Inc. from 1989 to 1991. He earned a Master of Science degree in civil engineering from Stanford University. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $137,956. Moore is a Democrat.

Joseph Countryman, 72, of Sacramento, has been reappointed to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, where he has served since 2012. Countryman has been an engineering consultant in private practice since 2011. He was an engineer at MBK Engineers from 1987 to 2010 and served in several positions in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from 1966 to 1987, including chief of the Civil Design Branch and junior engineer. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $43,795. Countryman is a Democrat.

Clyde Macdonald, 72, of Sacramento, has been reappointed to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, where he has served since 2012. Macdonald was chief consultant in the Office of California State Assemblymember John Laird from 2002 to 2008, in the Office of California State Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Fred Keeley from 2000 to 2002 and for the California State Assembly Local Government Committee from 1997 to 2000. Macdonald was a minority consultant for the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee from 1982 to 1996 and chief consultant for the California State Assembly Office of Research from 1982 to 1996 and for the California State Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee from 1976 to 1982. He was a consultant for the California State Assembly Water Committee from 1975 to 1976 and a program analyst in the California Legislative Analyst’s Office from 1971 to 1975. Macdonald earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of California, Berkeley Haas School of Business. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $43,795. Macdonald is a Democrat.

Tim Ramirez, 48, of Albany, has been reappointed to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, where he has served since 2012. Ramirez has been manager of the Natural Resources and Lands Management Division at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission since 2005. He was a senior advisor at the California Bay-Delta Authority from 2003 to 2005 and assistant secretary for water policy and science at the California Resources Agency from 2002 to 2003, where he was water policy and science advisor from 1999 to 2002. Ramirez was resource science director and acting executive director at the Tuolumne River Preservation Trust from 1996 to 1999. He earned a Master of Science degree in civil and environmental engineering and a Master of Arts degree in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $43,795. Ramirez is a Democrat.

Emma Suarez, 53, of Redding, has been reappointed to the Central Valley Flood Protection Board, where she has served since 2007 and served from 2005 to 2006. Suarez has been an attorney in private practice on natural resource issues since 2007. She was associate solicitor in the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Division of Land and Water in 2006. Suarez was a staff attorney at the California Farm Bureau Federation from 2004 to 2006 and at the Pacific Legal Foundation from 2003 to 2004. She was an associate at Matheny, Sears, Linkert and Long LLP from 2002 to 2003. Suarez earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $43,795. Suarez is registered without party preference.

Reclamation Releases Final Environmental Documents for San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s Eastside Bypass Conveyance Project

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

ReclamationThe Bureau of Reclamation has released the Final Environmental Assessment and a Finding of No Significant Impact for the San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s (SJRRP) Eastside Bypass Conveyance Project. The project is designed to restore flow capacity to the channel within the Eastside Bypass, allowing for the passage of Restoration Flows and reintroduced salmonids. The project is authorized under Public Law 111-11, Title X and is consistent with the SJRRP’s goal of restoring and maintaining fish populations in good condition from below Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River.

The project site is located approximately 19 miles southwest of the city of Merced, in the vicinity of El Nido Road and the southern extent of the Merced National Wildlife Refuge. It includes removing accumulated sediments in the channel, constructing a low flow channel, and removing the low-flow crossing and inoperable culverts that are currently impeding flows at El Nido Road. The project is being completed by Reclamation in coordination with the Merced National Wildlife Refuge and local landowners.

The Final EA and FONSI were prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Reclamation is the lead agency in accordance with NEPA. The documents may be viewed at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=23315.

Please visit www.restoresjr.net for more on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.

Reclamation Releases Final Environmental Documents, Provides $2 Million for San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s Sycamore Island Project

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

ReclamationThe Bureau of Reclamation has released the Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Sycamore Island Pond Isolation Project, located along the San Joaquin River near Fresno.

The project includes repairing a breached earthen berm that previously separated the pond from the river channel. The repaired berm will improve salmon habitat by again isolating the pond to reduce predation. Vehicle access to the Sycamore Island Recreation Area will also be restored. The project is being completed by the California Department of Water Resources and the San Joaquin River Conservancy, in coordination with Reclamation.

Reclamation will provide $2 million for the estimated $4.3 million project under Public Law 111-11, Title X, which authorizes financial assistance to local agencies for the planning, design and construction of local facilities to help implement the San Joaquin River Restoration Program’s goal of restoring and maintaining fish populations in good condition from below Friant Dam to the confluence of the Merced River.

The Final EA and FONSI were prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. Reclamation is the lead agency in accordance with NEPA. The documents may be viewed at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=23252.

Please visit www.restoresjr.net for more on the San Joaquin River Restoration Program.

New State Water Conservation Regulation Offers Regional Benefits from Seawater Desalination

Water Authority seeks to certify Carlsbad desalination plant as a drought-resilient supply

From the San Diego County Water Authority:

san diego county water authority logoThe San Diego County Water Authority is working with state regulators to certify the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant as a drought-resilient local supply source that will reduce state-mandated water-use targets across the region.

Changes to the state’s emergency drought response regulation adopted Tuesday by the State Water Resources Control Board provide a mechanism for the San Diego region to receive drought-resiliency benefits from the Carlsbad plant, which started commercial production in December 2015. With that facility now online, the Water Authority expects that state-mandated water-use targets for local water agencies will soon be lowered to align more closely with local water supply investments.

“The State Board’s decision is good news for our communities and ratepayers,” said Water Authority Board Chair Mark Weston. “These modifications recognize the need to take into account local water supply development efforts as well as increased conservation when implementing emergency drought response measures. Supplies from the Carlsbad desalination plant will reduce the need for extreme water conservation efforts in our region, an appropriate benefit for our proactive efforts to improve our water supply reliability by investing in the plant.”

The State Board revised its unprecedented water-use regulation that took effect in June 2015 and extended the new rule through October. It affords local water agencies that have developed drought-sustainable supplies since 2013 a supply credit of up to 8 percentage points toward the state-mandated water-use targets. The Carlsbad desalination plant provides the region with up to 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof water each year, reducing the region’s reliance on other water sources.

Starting in June 2015, the State Board’s water-use regulation directed Water Authority member agencies to reduce water use by 12 to 36 percent through February compared to the 2013 baseline levels. Through the first seven months of mandates, total regional potable water use in San Diego County declined by 24 percent from June through December. That beats the state’s aggregate target of 20 percent for the region. Conserved water has been stored in the newly expanded San Vicente Reservoir since early May 2015.

The Water Authority expects to certify the desalination plant supplies with the State Board in early March and finalize the actual reductions to local agencies’ state-mandated water-savings targets. The revised water-use mandates for local water agencies will vary depending on their initial targets set in May 2015. However, the modified emergency regulation still requires that every local water agency reduce water use compared to 2013 baseline levels to ensure conservation continues during this drought emergency. The minimum reduction is 8 percent compared to baseline levels, but most agencies in the San Diego region will still need to meet higher savings targets. The State Board will reconsider its regulations after the peak snow conditions are assessed in early April.

Over the past several months, the Water Authority joined with its member agencies and local civic and business groups to advocate for state policies that reflected local water supply investments and conditions. The proposed modifications were designed to achieve important statewide water management goals in a more equitable and sustainable manner, allow communities to receive the benefits of their investments in water supply reliability and minimize unnecessary impacts to ratepayers.

“I want to give special thanks to the residents and business leaders who provided comments to the State Board and helped improve the regulation,” Weston said. “Water conservation is still important and we still must keep water use below 2013 levels to meet the state mandate, but we can now do so with fewer impacts to our economy and quality of life. Businesses will have more flexibility to conduct their operations, and residents will have greater leeway to replace their dead lawns with water-efficient landscapes. Together, we can continue to make the most of our precious water supplies as we seek additional improvements to the state’s drought response measures.”

More information about the State Board actions is at www.sdcwa.org/state-board-regulations.

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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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