News Worth Noting: Delta tunnels: What then, is Plan B?; Central Valley Water Board to hold public hearing in Fresno on the Human Right to Water; Shasta County Property Owner to pay $100,000 Over Water Quality Violations Related to Marijuana Grow

Delta tunnels: What then, is Plan B?

Experts testify that tunnels would negatively affect Bay Area economy & environment

From the Office of Senator Lois Wolk:

WolkSeveral experts testified at the hearing that the Water Fix, a proposal to build two huge tunnels to divert water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Bay Estuary, would be harmful to the Bay Area’s environment and economy, including the region’s tourism and fishing industries.

Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird, who attended the hearing on behalf of the Administration, addressed the shocking news that the Westland Water District used “Enron-style accounting” to mislead investors about a $77 million bond sale, resulting in a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission over civil charges.

“It is disturbing. It’s disturbing to us. We found out about it just as you did, from the press reports of the SEC decision. And, overall, this is, as you say, a beneficiary pays project, where the beneficiaries themselves have to decide to do it,” said Laird. “[I]t really depends totally on their ability and their willingness to pay for the project. And I think it is totally clear that the urban users have the financial wherewithal to do it. I think the real question is how does it pencil out in the agricultural regions? But the Governor has been really clear. It’s beneficiary pays and that’s what it takes to go ahead and I think it’s just a law of economics that it won’t move ahead unless people, it pencils out for people and they sign up and they pay.”

True to her commitment, Senator Wolk made the full hearing available to view online: http://sd03.senate.ca.gov/news/2016-03-11-select-committee-sacramento-san-joaquin-delta

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the Water Fix proposal has a huge impact on the health and economy on all of California, especially that of the San Francisco Bay Area. With this hearing, Senator Wolk continued her strong record of securing protections for the Delta and surrounding communities.

“California’s world class economy relies on the sustainability of the state’s own natural water conveyance system, the entire San Francisco Bay Delta system,” said Wolk “In fact, two-thirds of Californians and millions of acres of farmland rely on the Delta for its water supply. Yet the connection between pending Delta policy decisions, specifically the Delta Tunnels proposal, and the State of California—its ecosystem and economy—is often lost, overlooked or completely ignored.

Last Friday’s hearing finished off with the question of “What, then, is Plan B?” marking a starting point to explore viable alternatives that will not damage the integrity of the Delta economy and ecosystem.

NOTE FROM MAVEN: Look for upcoming coverage of this hearing on Maven’s Notebook.

Central Valley Water Board to hold public hearing in Fresno on the Human Right to Water

SWRCB logo water boardsFrom the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board:

The Central Valley Water Board will be holding a public hearing during its April meeting in Fresno to consider a proposed resolution that would affirm that the Human Right to Water is a core value in the Board’s programs and activities.

On September 25, 2012, the California Legislature adopted Assembly Bill 685, which added section 106.3 to the Water Code and declared that every human has the right to clean, affordable, and accessible water for consumption, cooking and sanitary purposes (generally referred to as the Human Right to Water). The State Water Board adopted a resolution on February 16, 2016, that affirmed Regional Water Quality Control Boards’ obligation to consider the human right to water when establishing policies, regulations, or grant criteria when such actions are pertinent to water for human consumption, cooking, and sanitary purposes. (Wat. Code § 106, subd. (b).)

A public hearing will be conducted during the April 2016 Central Valley Water Board meeting which is tentatively scheduled as follows:
Date: 21/22 April 2016
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Location: Central Valley Water Board
1685 E Street
Fresno, CA 93706

The final meeting agenda will be available at:
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/centralvalley/board_info/meetings/#2016
at least ten days before the meeting. The agenda will provide the hearing date for the proposed resolution, include all material related to this agenda item, and may include staff revisions.

Shasta County Property Owner to pay $100,000 Over Water Quality Violations Related to Marijuana Grow

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

SWRCB logo water boardsThe Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Valley Water Board) approved a settlement agreement ordering property owner Brent Alan Vanderkam to pay a penalty of $100,000 for the unauthorized discharge of waste from marijuana cultivation into surface waters near Millville in Shasta County.

The Board’s Prosecution Team believed Vanderkam’s lessee developed the property to support a large scale marijuana growing operation. Vanderkam was unwilling to identify the lessee, and as owner of the property, Vanderkam was ultimately held responsible for the discharges of waste that emanated from his property and bears all responsibility for the penalty and cleanup.

vanderkam_1The settlement stems from a March 2015 Administrative Civil Liability Complaint that alleged storm water violations associated with unpermitted grading of approximately 2.24 acres, resulting in the unauthorized discharge of more than 700,000 gallons of sediment laden storm water. Along with the unpermitted grading were dredge and fill violations related to 200 linear feet of disturbed streambed in an unnamed tributary to Clover Creek that resulted in the discharge of an estimated 427 cubic yards of fill materials. These discharges were in violation of the Federal Clean Water Act, California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, the Central Valley Water Board’s Basin Plan Prohibitions, and California Department of Fish and Wildlife Code.

Due to significant and potential long-term sediment discharges at the site, Vanderkam is also subject to a Cleanup and Abatement Order issued on March 25, 2015, to remediate ongoing problems within the property. The Order requires the discharger to obtain all necessary permits; prepare an interim erosion and sediment control plan; prepare a restoration, mitigation, and monitoring plan; and conduct long-term monitoring. Vanderkam’s consultant estimates it will cost $95,000 to comply with the Order, in addition to the $100,000 penalty.

vanderkam_2“The failure of Mr. Vanderkam or his lessee to obtain the necessary permits prior to developing the property for marijuana cultivation resulted in significant impacts to water quality,” said Clint Snyder, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. “Had these individuals obtained the proper permits and conducted the grading activities in accordance with those permits, impacts to water quality and the subsequent enforcement actions would have been avoided. The settlement terms reflect the egregious nature of these violations and the importance of holding landowners accountable.”

The investigation and enforcement actions are the result of a multiagency cannabis pilot project formed specifically to address the adverse environmental impacts caused by marijuana cultivation. The project includes staff from the State and Regional Water Boards and the Department of Fish and Wildlife. Assistance in this case was also provided by the Shasta County Department of Resource Management.

For complete details on the settlement, please visit the Central Valley Water Board’s webpage.

The Central Valley Water Board is a California state agency responsible for the preservation and enhancement of the quality of California’s water resources. For more information, visit the Regional Water Board’s website.

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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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