NEWS WORTH NOTING: Army Corps agrees to hold back water in Lake Mendocino; Sierra Meadows Partnership adopts “all-hands, all-lands” approach to restore and protect Sierra meadows; Water Authority declares drought over in San Diego County

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Agrees to Hold Back Water in Lake Mendocino

Minor deviation will save 5,825 acre-feet behind Coyote Valley Dam

From the Sonoma County Water Agency:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) today approved a request by the Sonoma County Water Agency (Water Agency) to keep an additional 5,825 acre-feet of water behind Coyote Valley Dam at Lake Mendocino in an effort to preserve water supply while meeting flood control and dam safety requirements.  The minor deviation will allow an increase of water in the water supply pool from 68,400 acre-feet to 74,225 acre-feet.

“Our community greatly appreciates the Corps’ flexibility in how they operate Lake Mendocino for the betterment of our water resources and environment,” said Water Agency Chairwoman Shirlee Zane.  “Lake Mendocino’s water supply relies on annual rainfall to fill.  While recent atmospheric river events have helped bolster our water supplies, there is never enough water to waste.  This deviation allows us to save extra water when we have it, so we can use it when we absolutely need it.”

The Corps will continue to release water from Lake Mendocino due to the considerable amount of water within the current flood control pool.  As of January 25, there was 86,440 acre-feet of water in Lake Mendocino, or 140% of water supply capacity, which means the Corps will release approximately 12,000 acre-feet from the flood control pool.

The Water Agency manages reservoir releases when water levels remain in the water supply pool.  When water rises enough to enter the flood control pool of the reservoir, the Corps takes charge of releasing water for flood protection and dam safety purposes.

In order to maximize that additional water storage, on December 16, 2016, the Water Agency requested that the Corps allow an additional 5,825 acre feet of water to be stored in the flood control pool – the Corps calls this action a “temporary deviation” from its flood control manual.  This manual that was written in the 1950s and mandates when and how much water must be released from the reservoir for flood control and dam safety purposes.

To read the minor deviation and learn more about Lake Mendocino, please visit www.sonomacountywater.org/reservoir-operations/

Sierra Meadows Partnership adopts “all-hands, all-lands” approach to restore and protect state’s Sierra Nevada meadows

From California Trout:

The Sierra Meadows Partnership, spearheaded by California Trout and comprising a broad coalition of government agencies, scientists, non-profit conservation organizations and other stakeholders, announced the release of the Sierra Meadows Strategy. The strategy outlines an action plan to restore and protect 30,000 acres of mountain meadowlands in the greater Sierra Nevada of California within 15 years.

The Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Forest Service and CalTrout also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today formalizing a collaborative approach to advance meadow restoration. Other stakeholders interested in working on meadows restoration, including members of the partnership, will be invited to join the MOU moving forward.

“The Sierra Meadows Partnership is taking an ‘all-hands, all-lands’ approach to this effort,” said Mark Drew, Sierra Headwaters Program Director for California Trout.  “This strategy is a framework for widespread restoration of Sierra meadows to benefit fish, wildlife and plants as well as millions of Californians who depend on Sierra Nevada water for their health and livelihoods.”

More than 20 partner groups have worked together since February 2014 to produce the Sierra Meadows Strategy. The strategy provides the guidance necessary to achieve an ambitious and effective course of action to increase rates of meadow conservation. By reaching consensus on a path forward, a diverse group of agencies, scientists, and other stakeholders can more effectively leverage resources and strategic changes required to restore and protect meadows throughout the greater Sierra Nevada Region.

This region is the source of more than 60 percent of the state’s developed water supply. It also encompasses a rich variety of natural areas, supporting 50 percent of California’s plant species and 60 percent of the state’s animal species. Sierra meadows cover less than 2 percent of the overall Sierra-Cascade landscape, but they are biological hotspots that sustain the headwaters of several major California water sources.

Continue reading at California Trout here:  Sierra Meadows Partnership

Water Authority Declares Drought Over in San Diego County

Board asks governor to rescind drought emergency regulations for regions with sufficient supplies

From the San Diego County Water Authority:

Record-setting winter precipitation in the Northern Sierra, coupled with heavy local rainfall and a significant snowpack in the upper Colorado River basin, prompted the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors today to declare an end to drought conditions in the region. The Board resolution also calls on Gov. Jerry Brown and the State Water Resources Control Board to rescind the statewide emergency water-use regulation for areas of California that are no longer in drought conditions.

The Water Authority’s supply forecast has continued to significantly improve with recent wet winter conditions, including a series of record-setting storms across California in January that benefited both statewide and local conditions. As of Jan. 23, San Diego’s official rainfall measurement station at Lindbergh Field had recorded 172 percent of average rainfall since the start of the water year on Oct. 1. More importantly, the water content of snow in the Sierra Nevada, a prime water source for much of the state, was 193 percent of average as of Jan. 23. Meanwhile, snowpack levels were at 161 percent of average in the upper basin of the Colorado River.

The state’s current emergency drought regulation is set to expire on Feb. 28, and the State Board is expected to decide whether to extend that regulation on Feb. 8. The Water Authority provided the State Board with written comments on the potential extension of the regulation ahead of the State Board’s Jan. 18 workshop on urban water conservation regulation.

“Telling the public to continue extraordinary, emergency conservation measures when the drought emergency no longer exists undermines the credibility of state and local water agencies and erodes the effectiveness of communications during actual water supply emergencies,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board. “The state should focus its 2017 efforts on communities that actually need help meeting water quality standards and water demands. We will continue to promote water-use efficiency in the San Diego County no matter the weather.”

Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton said continuing unnecessary statewide drought emergency regulations hampers the region’s ability to sustain a healthy and vibrant economy by undermining efforts to retain, attract and expand businesses and investment.

“We have had throughout this past drought – and continue to have – all the water necessary to meet the needs of local businesses and residents because our ratepayers made the significant investments needed to prepare for drought,” Stapleton said. “It is imperative that we in San Diego send a clear message to businesses already here, those considering expanding their operations here, and those considering moving here: the San Diego region is open for business. We have the water supply necessary to grow your business, to fuel our $222 billion regional economy and to support a high quality of life for our residents.”

Continue reading at the San Diego County Water Authority here: Water Authority Declares Drought Over in San Diego County

 

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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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