News Worth Noting: DWR extends deadline for SGMA BMPs survey; Lower American River habitat project to begin at Sacramento Bar; Corps awards $2.16M contract for Sacramento River erosion repairs; Central Valley Water Board settles with East San Joaquin Valley grower over failure to acquire water quality permit

DWR extends deadline for Best Management Practices survey to August 8

From the Department of Water Resources:

NEW_DWR_LOGO_14inchThe DWR Sustainable Groundwater Management Program has developed a Best Management Practices (BMP) Survey to help rank initial BMP development for the sustainable management of groundwater basins. The Survey is an opportunity for practitioners and members of the public to provide direct input on the BMPs considered of importance in their respective basins. The Survey proposes a number of potential BMPs respondents can rank and asks if there are additional BMPs respondents would like addressed. The Survey requires respondents to identify their name and affiliation. Upon completion of the survey, respondents will receive a confirmation email with a copy of their submittal.

The Survey will now be available through August 8, 2016. Access the survey at: http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/bmps.cfm

Also available online is the Best Management Practices (BMP) Development Framework (Framework) which outlines DWR’s approach and timeline for development of BMPs. The Framework describes how to engage in the development of BMPs and presents the schedule for developing the initial set of BMPs.

For more information, please visit the SGM Program BMP webpage at: http://water.ca.gov/groundwater/sgm/bmps.cfm

Lower American River Salmonid Spawning and Rearing Habitat Project to Begin at Sacramento Bar

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

ReclamationThe Bureau of Reclamation, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Water Forum, Sacramento County Regional Parks, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will begin work on the 2016 Lower American River Salmonid Spawning and Rearing Habitat Restoration Project in early August.

This eighth year of the Project continues the work of improving spawning and rearing habitat for steelhead trout and Chinook salmon in the lower American River. The amount of available juvenile salmonid rearing habitat limits the production potential in the river. Much of the existing spawning habitat consists of large rocks and fine sediment that reduces the ability for these fish to construct redds (nests) and may reduce the number of eggs surviving and emerging as juvenile fish from the redds. A 1,200 foot long side channel will be will be excavated along the north side of the river at Sacramento Bar and spawning gravel will be added to the main channel of the river. This Project is one of many to help meet the requirements of the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Section 3406 (b)(13), to restore and replenish spawning gravel and rearing habitat.

Work will begin August 1, 2016. Heavy equipment work is expected to be completed by the end of September with any planting expected to be done later. Sacramento Bar is at river mile 19 on the American River, one mile downstream of the Sunrise Boulevard bridge over the river.

The side channel will be excavated and gravel will be sorted, washed, and then placed in the river using excavators, front-end loaders and bulldozers. Safety is a priority and it is very important for the public to pay attention to the informational signage located around Sacramento Bar.

To learn more about the Project, please review the August 2016 Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact and earlier documents, which are available at http://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_projdetails.cfm?Project_ID=3202.

Corps awards $2.16 million contract for Sacramento River erosion repairs

From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

Army Corps diagramThe U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District awarded a $2.16 million construction contract July 21 to RDA Contracting, Inc. of Rio Vista for Sacramento River erosion repair near Isleton.

The work involves placing close to 14 tons of quarry stone along 591 linear feet of river bank where the eroded face and toe of the levee are located. Construction work at the site is planned to start in August and be completed by late 2016.

“We expedited the contract award because it’s critical work for public safety and to prevent property damage,” Corps Project Manager Stephen Osgood said. “Without this work, the levee could be breached in flood season, endangering the people of Isleton.”

It’ll also bolster California Highway 160, which mostly runs adjacent to the river from Sacramento to Antioch and is situated on the crest of the levee where erosion repair will occur.

The work is part of the ongoing Sacramento River Bank Protection Project, a joint effort between the Corps and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board to repair river bank erosion and protect levees along the Sacramento River and its tributaries to reduce flood risk for the Central Valley. RDA Contracting, Inc. is a U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a)-designated small business. The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program is designed to help small businesses obtain federal contracts.

Central Valley Water Board Settles With East San Joaquin Valley Grower Over Failure to Acquire Water Quality Permit

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

SWRCB logo water boardsThe Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has approved a settlement agreement with a Madera County landowner for failure to obtain the required permits for discharging waste from their irrigated croplands.

The Central Valley Water Board approved a settlement agreement for Gurcharan and Balwinder Rakkar in the amount of $63,700 for their properties in the East San Joaquin Valley. Of the full settlement amount, $29,619 will be provided to Self-Help Enterprises to conduct an environmental project called “Disadvantaged Community Engagement in Regional Water Planning for the Madera County area of the San Joaquin Basin Region.” This project is one of many that have been funded as a result of the Central Valley Water Board’s partnership with the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment that began in 2014.

“Owners of unpermitted irrigated lands undermine the regulatory program and ongoing efforts to mitigate agricultural-related water quality problems,” said Andrew Altevogt, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. “With this and other similar fines, the board is sending a strong message that a lack of appropriate permit coverage is unacceptable.”

State law requires water quality permits for commercially-irrigated lands because pesticides and fertilizers used on cropland can run off into streams, or enter groundwater. These permits ensure waste discharges don’t harm the Central Valley’s rivers and groundwater aquifers.

In 2012, the Central Valley Water Board issued waste discharge requirements that allowed farmers in the East San Joaquin River Watershed to join the East San Joaquin Water Quality Coalition. The coalition holds water quality permits that cover their members and conducts monitoring and provides reports to the Central Valley Water Board on behalf of the growers.

Growers who don’t join a coalition incur much higher costs associated with conducting their own individual monitoring and reporting directly to the Central Valley Water Board. Landowners whose parcels do not have the required permit are subject to fines and may lose their opportunity to be regulated under the coalition-based permit.

For more information, see the Rakkar settlement agreement.

Owners of irrigated cropland can find out how to join a coalition group and get the required regulatory coverage by going to the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program “Join a Coalition Group” webpage, or by calling the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program at (916) 464-4611.

More information about these fines can be found at the Irrigated Lands Regulatory Program Outreach and Enforcement webpage.

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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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