News Worth Noting: Senator Wolk presses for immediate aquifer protection; Congressman Garamendi plans to introduce drought legislation in House; Legal alert: DWR releases draft regulations for groundwater sustainability plans; DWR honors three NASA scientists for subsidence mapping work

Senator Wolk presses for immediate aquifer protection

Wolk says, ‘We need to stop digging deeper in critical areas that are sinking’

From the Office of Senator Lois Wolk:

WolkSenator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) pressed for a renewed effort to protect the state’s aquifers against critical overdraft today following a legislative hearing to oversee state implementation of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Wolk is carrying Senate Bill 1317, also known as the Aquifer Protection Act, to halt the proliferation of new wells and to slow the depletion of aquifers to avoid permanent damage to the state’s groundwater resources.

Wolk issued the following statement:

“Today’s hearing made clear that the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act will serve to provide long term management of the state’s groundwater supplies. But, in the near term, whole communities are seeing wells dry up, infrastructure cracking as the ground below it sinks, and new wells drilled every day. The state has mapped 21 critically overdrafted basins, but we have no way to stop new wells from tapping into these shrinking aquifers. California still has no mechanism to protect that groundwater supply and our aquifers against permanent damage by unmitigated, rapid groundwater withdrawals. We need to stop digging deeper in critical areas that are sinking while we figure out how to manage this serious problem and these aquifers sustainably in the long term.”

Congressman Garamendi Plans to Introduce California Drought Legislation in House of Representatives

Legislation would mirror S.2533, the “California Long-Term Provisions for Water Supply and Short-Term Provisions for Emergency Drought Relief Act,” recently introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein

garamendiFrom the Office of Congressman John Garamendi:

Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, Davis, Yuba City) announced his intention to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives that would address California’s prolonged drought. The bill, which mirrors legislation introduced by Senator Feinstein, would authorize $1.3 billion for long-term water solutions and short-term drought relief, all without violating California’s landmark environmental laws.

“The California drought legislation that has passed the House of Representatives so far would cause irreparable damage to the ecology of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, all without creating the long-term storage and infrastructure California needs to ensure the reliability of our water supply,” said Congressman Garamendi. “I am introducing this legislation because the House has not done its job to find a solution that treats all stakeholders fairly while respecting our environmental laws. Senator Feinstein’s legislation does exactly that. It is the result of a lengthy process of discussions, negotiations and compromise, and California cannot afford to wait.”

“I do not believe it is enough to simply hope that Congress won’t make the problem worse. California needs help, and we need to restart the conversation in Washington about finding a solution that works for everyone.”

Senator Feinstein and Congressman Garamendi had been part of a bicameral group of legislators working to negotiate a bipartisan solution to California’s water infrastructure issues. Garamendi is currently recruiting additional co-sponsors for the legislation.

Legal alert: DWR Releases Draft Emergency Regulations for Groundwater Sustainability Plans

From Downey Brand:

Downey Brand new logoLast Thursday, the Department of Water Resources (“DWR” or “Department”) released draft emergency regulations governing the preparation, evaluation, and implementation of groundwater sustainability plans (“GSPs” or “Plans”) as well as coordination agreements among Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (“GSAs”).  The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (“SGMA”) directs DWR to adopt final regulations by June 1, 2016.

DWR’s timely adoption of these regulations is essential as some of SGMA’s key deadlines approach.  Once adopted, DWR’s regulations will provide the framework for GSAs in developing and implementing GSPs, and the standards that DWR will use in evaluating those GSPs.  By January 31, 2020, all high- and medium-priority basins subject to critical conditions of overdraft must be managed under an approved GSP, and all other high- and medium-priority basins must have an approved GSP by January 31, 2022. 

SGMA requires each GSP to provide “measurable objectives” that will allow the basin to achieve a “sustainability goal in the basin within 20 years of the implementation of the Plan.” (Water Code, § 10727.2(b)(1).)

The draft regulations are voluminous (almost 60 pages) and provide a comprehensive set of procedures, technical standards, and substantive mandates concerning GSP preparation.  The regulations attempt to both promote groundwater sustainability through local management and also provide a set of statewide standards that all GSAs must apply in managing a given basin and setting numeric targets. …

Continue reading from Downey Brand by clicking here.

DWR honors three NASA Scientists for subsidence mapping work

From the Department of Water Resources:

NEW_DWR_LOGO_14inchThe Department of Water Resources (DWR) presented its Remote Sensing and Drought Science Service awards at today’s Water Operations Briefing in Sacramento sponsored by DWR and the Water Education Foundation. The purpose of the awards is to recognize ongoing assistance provided by researchers who have been working closely with DWR on drought or climate science projects.

DWR Director Mark Cowin said: “DWR is pleased to recognize the work these scientists have performed in developing new methodologies for monitoring land subsidence in response to our multi-year drought. We appreciate the time they have invested in developing the productive working relationship that has allowed us to collaborate in applying remote sensing to monitor land subsidence that can impact critical water infrastructure.”

The award recipients, all with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, are Dr. Thomas Farr, Dr. Cathleen Jones and Dr. Zhen Liu.

The researchers used satellite and aircraft-based interferometric synthetic aperture radar data to map land subsidence due to groundwater extraction in the San Joaquin Valley, where drought-related surface water shortages have led to increased groundwater pumping and record low groundwater levels.

Their work found that some parts of the valley subsided more than a foot during the 2014 irrigation season alone.  “We were impressed by the ability to see the monthly progression of summer land surface deformation in response to irrigation water demands”, said DWR Interstate Resources Manager Jeanine Jones.

Use of innovative high-resolution aircraft-based monitoring was also able to detect this rapid increase in subsidence directly along DWR’s California Aqueduct.  NASA is currently processing 2015 land subsidence data for DWR.

While the winter rain and snowpack are promising, this may yet prove to be a fifth consecutive year of drought in California. To learn about all the actions the state has taken to manage our water system and cope with the impacts of the drought, visit Drought.CA.gov. Every Californian should take steps to conserve water; find out how at SaveOurWater.com.

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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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