News Worth Noting: State Water Board Update on the California Water Fix water right hearing; Department of Water Resources awards groundwater management grants; GovOps launches second phase of open data portal
State Water Board Update on the California Water Fix water right hearing
On March 4, 2016, the State Water Board hearing officers for the California Water Fix Project (WaterFix) water right change petition hearing issued a ruling on various hearing matters. The subject petition requests changes in water rights of the Department of Water Resources and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (collectively Petitioners) to add points of diversion of water to the Petitioners’ water rights needed for the WaterFix. The March 4 ruling grants a request by the Petitioners’ to delay the hearing and the due date for their exhibits (Part 1A of the hearing) to the hearing by a month and provides a similar delay for the hearing and exhibit due dates for other parties’ cases (Part 1B of the hearing). The ruling also addresses comments and other procedural issues. Among other issues, the March 4 ruling provides a due date of noon on March 16, 2016, for receipt of revised Notices of Intent to Appear (NOIs) for the specific reasons outlined in the ruling. The State Water Board received several proposed revised NOIs. The proposed revised NOIs have been posted on the State Water Board’s website at: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/bay_delta/california_waterfix/noi_protests/. The WaterFix hearing team is in the process of reviewing these revised NOIs to determine whether they conform to the provisions of the March 4 ruling.
The Petitioners’ testimony and exhibits for Part 1A of the hearing are due to be submitted by noon on March 30, 2016, and Part 1A of the hearing is scheduled to commence on May 5, 2016, with policy statements followed by the Petitioners’ case in chief. Any written procedural or evidentiary objections concerning the Petitioners’ case in chief are then due by noon on April 15, 2016. Part 1B of the hearing will commence on July 26, 2016, with exhibits due June 15, 2016. For additional information related to the WaterFix hearing, please see the California Water Fix hearing webpage under the “Water Right Change” tab.
Department of Water Resources awards groundwater management grants
From the Department of Water Resources:
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced it is awarding 21 counties a total of $6.7 million in grants to help with sustainable groundwater planning. The Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program provides funding for county projects that will develop groundwater plans consistent with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) enacted by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. in 2014. The awards were made to counties with high and medium priority groundwater basins, some of which are in critical over-draft.
DWR received 23 grant applications requesting a total of approximately $7 million. Adding the matching funds provided by the grant award recipients, approximately $13 million will be dedicated to projects in counties that need to begin long-term planning for sustainable groundwater management. According to Laura McLean, Senior Engineering Geologist with the Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program, DWR gave priority to proposals that will benefit disadvantaged communities, address critically over-drafted basins, address basins exhibiting stressed conditions, and proposals to enact ordinances to address groundwater sustainability.
“This funding will help counties address long-term planning goals, better understand what’s coming in and going out of their aquifers, and get the much- needed jumpstart on addressing the new regulations,” says McLean. “More funding will certainly become available to help groundwater sustainability agencies moving forward. We aim to complement the timeline requirements of the law as we continue to streamline our grant processes to get the money out as quickly as possible.”
Colusa County is among the 21 counties across California receiving funding and plans to use the funding to advance groundwater sustainability through policy and technical refinement. Mendocino County plans to use the funds for the initial groundwater sustainability plan development, and Kings County’s proposal will include developing a groundwater model for its critically over-drafted groundwater basin.
The funding provides the means for local communities to create long-term sustainable groundwater management plans for California’s groundwater basins. On average, groundwater makes up over one-third of California’s water supply and over one-half of the supply during drought years. When groundwater basins are critically over-drafted, chronically lowered groundwater levels, seawater intrusion, and land subsidence can result. The SGMA requires basins in conditions of critical overdraft to be managed under a groundwater sustainability plan two years prior to other high- and medium-priority basins, stressing the need for funding to implement sustainability plans and take steps to rehabilitate basins as soon as possible.
DWR announced draft funding recommendations in January and considered public comments on the proposals. DWR staff is working with grantees on detailed work plans for their respective projects including efforts to develop groundwater ordinances and develop plans that protect basins, their beneficial uses, and facilitate basin-wide sustainability. Over next several months DWR will continue to work with counties regarding budgets and schedules for the funds, which counties can expect to receive as soon as June 2016.
To be added to the SGW Program contact list, please email your contact information to SGWP@water.ca.gov.
GovOps Launches Second Phase of Open Data Portal
Water, Transportation and Economic Datasets Added
The Government Operations Agency (GovOps) announced today it has launched the second phase of its one-year open data portal project. The goal of the initiative is to centralize and enhance open data in the state of California.
New datasets from the Department of Transportation, State Water Resources Control Board and Department of Finance are now available on https://greengov.data.ca.gov/. The new datasets give the public access to significant information about water, transportation and the economy and demographics.
“As information on the open data portal expands, so too does the opportunity for government to improve how it does business,” said GovOps Secretary Marybel Batjer. “We will continue to bring new information to the portal in order to better serve the people of California.”
GovOps launched the open data portal with the CA GreenGov Challenge, a code-a-thon, in October 2015. That challenge produced applications that state government is using to improve services. As new datasets are added, GovOps is also including departments with their own open data portals into the site. This information will allow state departments and anyone interested in using data for civic engagement to create new ways of examining how the state delivers services.
Caltrans, one of the participating departments in the pilot, provided details about 2014 Traffic Volumes and the 2014 Caltrans Performance Monitoring System Congestion Data. The department is also looking to add more datasets to the portal as the pilot moves forward.
“There is a growing recognition of the critical role that data should play in the planning and management of California’s complex transportation system,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Data-driven approaches increasingly are how we are going to address congestion and environmental issues in California.”
The State Water Board recently launched its first annual Water Dive – a series of data-centered events focused on fostering transparency and collaboration within the Water Boards, state and local agencies, and the public, to help turn data into knowledge and insight that supports preserving and enhancing California water.
“The State and Regional Water Boards are pleased to be recognized for our ongoing efforts to foster public transparency and collaboration, and our commitment to provide real time, dependable and accurate information on the health of our waterways and our groundwater resources,” said State Water Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Information, open to all to use, question, and interpret, leads to better conversation, collaboration and action in dealing with the myriad challenge we face.”
The Health and Human Services Agency, State Controller’s Office, Franchise Tax Board, State Treasurer’s Office, Board of Equalization and Department of Justice have all launched open data portals of their own. The datasets on these portals, along with the datasets in the pilot portal, will eventually be accessible by a centralized, state open data portal, www.opendata.ca.gov, which will serve as a single access point to open data in the state of California.
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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.