DWR releases draft Environmental Impact Report on State Water Project contract extension
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released for public review a draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on extending the term of its water supply contracts with 29 public agencies in northern California, the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast and Southern California.
The 29 agencies contract with DWR for the delivery of water supplies from the State Water Project, a network of dams, reservoirs, pumping plants and canals that provides flood protection and supplies water to 29 million people and nearly one million acres of farmland.
The proposed Water Supply Contract Extension project involves extending the State Water Project water supply contracts beyond 2035, which is the year the first such contracts expire. The proposed project would also amend certain financial provisions of the water supply contracts. It would, for example, allow DWR to increase the State Water Project operating reserves from $32 million to $150 million to cover emergencies and short-term cash flow deficiencies. It would also update 55-year-old billing provisions to create a more comprehensive pay-as-you-go repayment methodology.
The public will have 60 days to comment on the DEIR; the public comment period will close on October 17, 2016. DWR will hold a public hearing to gather public comments on September 12, 2016 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Tsakopoulos Library Galleria located at 828 I Street in Sacramento.
DWR entered into these water supply contracts in the 1960s to provide water service in exchange for payments that recover the water supply cost of constructing, operating and maintaining the State Water Project. The 29 water supply contracts have the same general provisions, and each has an initial term of 75 years.
From May 2013 to June 2014, DWR and the 29 State Water Project Water Contractors held public negotiations to arrive at the Agreement in Principle, which includes the proposal to extend the expiration date of the water supply contracts to December 31, 2085.
It has become more expensive on an annual cost recovery basis to finance capital expenditures for the State Water Project since DWR does not currently sell State Water Project revenue bonds (the primary financing mechanism for project capital costs) with maturities beyond 2035, the year the first water supply contracts expire.
Each passing year exacerbates the revenue bond compaction problem. This is significant because there is a continuing need to raise capital to pay to refurbish, replace and repair aging State Water Project facilities, including aqueducts and hydroelectric equipment, as well as maintain dams to current seismic safety standards.
The proposed project does not include any changes to the water management provisions or the water allocations in the water supply contracts. Amending the water supply contracts to extend the contract term would need to occur regardless of the outcome of California WaterFix.
For more information, including a copy of the DEIR and the Agreement in Principle, visit DWR’s website at http://www.water.ca.gov/swpao/watercontractextension/
Draft Technical Reference documents for the Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) are now available for public comment
This Technical Reference supports applicants’ project analysis and quantification of public benefits and assists applicants in producing competitive, technically sound applications. This Technical Reference provides specific information to applicants about what a sound analysis of without-project and with-project conditions, benefits, and impacts includes and describes some models and methods that could be employed to meet regulatory requirements of the WSIP.
The document is now available on the Water Commission website at the following link: https://cwc.ca.gov/Documents/2016/WSIP/WSIP_Draft_TechRefDoc_Compiled.pdf
Proposed Revisions to Water Boards’ Enforcement Policy Will Likely Lead to Higher Penalties
From the Downey Brand law firm:
The State Water Resources Control Board is proposing to modify its 2010 Enforcement Policy that guides statewide decision-making on bringing enforcement actions and issuing monetary Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) penalties. Comments on the proposed policy are currently required to be submitted by September 13, 2016, although it is possible that this date could be extended upon request.
The existing Enforcement Policy prescribes a multi-step, mathematical spreadsheet approach to calculating a proposed discretionary penalty for alleged violations of the Water Code, Clean Water Act, permits, or other regulatory documents adopted under the applicable laws. This approach tracks the statutorily prescribed “factors” that must be considered when the Water Boards take discretionary enforcement. Some of the proposed changes include …
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