NEWS WORTH NOTING: Final California water conservation plan and proposed legislation released; Reclamation releases 2017 Klamath Project Operations Plan; Met board OKs planning role in Sites Reservoir

Final California Water Conservation Plan and Proposed Legislation Released

From Best Best & Krieger:

Urban water suppliers would face significant new requirements under water conservation and drought resiliency legislation proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The legislation, released in the form of budget trailer bill language late Friday, implements portions of a May 2016 Executive Order issued by Brown to conserve water supplies and make California more drought resilient. If enacted, the legislation would amend, repeal or add 42 different sections of the California Water Code and have long-term implications for urban water suppliers throughout the State.

Earlier Friday, Brown issued a new Executive Order B-40-17 terminating the drought state of emergency, which went into effect in January 2014, for all but four counties (Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne).  The new Executive Order retains and refines the water conservation mandates from the May 2016 Executive Order. In addition, five state agencies, including the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board, released a final report, “Making Water Conservation a California Way of Life,” which contains the State’s comprehensive plan for conserving water and preparing for droughts.

Continue reading at Best Best & Krieger here: Final California Water Conservation Plan and Proposed Legislation Released

Reclamation Releases 2017 Klamath Project Operations Plan

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation today announced its 2017 Klamath Project (Project) Operations Plan (Plan). The Plan is based upon the expected hydrologic conditions from the April 1 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) inflow forecasts and current reservoir elevations.

“Klamath Project water users are looking forward to a great water year,” said Pablo Arroyave, Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Acting Regional Director. “We are experiencing the best hydrologic conditions since 2011, and it’s a refreshing start for the irrigation season.”

The Plan outlines water deliveries for the 2017 irrigation season for more than 200,000 irrigated acres in southern Oregon and northern California. The Plan provides an estimate of the 2017 water supply available for the Project and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, the volume of water to be released to the Klamath River for Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed threatened coho salmon, and the volume of water to be reserved in Upper Klamath Lake (UKL) for ESA-listed endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers. The Plan is also used by agricultural water users, Klamath Basin tribes, national wildlife refuge managers, and others as a planning and informational tool.

As of April 1, the snowpack was 122 percent of average and the total precipitation was 139 percent of average. This is the first time the Klamath Basin has had a wet winter since the release in 2013 of the Biological Opinions on the Effects of Proposed Klamath Project Operations from May 31, 2013, through March 31, 2023, on Five Federally Listed Threatened and Endangered Species (2013 BiOp).

As of April 1, UKL had an elevation of 4,142.70 feet, which is equivalent to approximately 465,596 acre-feet of storage. The NRCS April 1 forecast for inflows to UKL from April 1 to Sept. 30 is 615,000 acre-feet, about 128 percent of average inflow. Under these conditions, the Project supply consistent with the 2013 BiOp from UKL for the 2017 irrigation season is expected to be 390,000 acre-feet, which is a full supply.

Based on current lake levels and projected inflows for Clear Lake and Gerber reservoirs, the anticipated water supplies for the 2017 irrigation season are 35,000 acre-feet from Clear Lake Reservoir and approximately 35,000 acre-feet from Gerber Reservoir; both are 100 percent of a full supply.

Despite a forecasted full supply, the Plan encourages water conservation to ensure available water throughout the season. Reclamation will manage Project deliveries throughout the irrigation season to meet requirements under the 2013 BiOp and all other legal and contractual obligations.

The Project’s 2017 Operations Plan is available online at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/kbao/programs/ops-planning.html. If you encounter problems accessing the document, please call 916-978-5100 (TTY 800-877-8339) or email mppublicaffairs@usbr.gov.

Metropolitan Board OKs planning role in Northern California reservoir project

District board appropriates $1.5 million for participation in Sites Reservoir planning phase

From Metropolitan Water District:

Looking to possibly increase Southern California’s future water reserves and better position the region to address climate change, Metropolitan Water District’s Board of Directors today approved an initial down payment to participate in a proposed large off-stream reservoir in Northern California.

The board unanimously authorized $1.5 million to join the first planning phase of the proposed Sites Reservoir aimed at securing state grant construction funds from Proposition 1. While the action does not guarantee Metropolitan’s future involvement in the building of the planned reservoir about 80 miles north of Sacramento, it provides the district an initial option of up to 50,000 acre-feet of annual water yield.

“This modest stake gives Southern California a seat at the table as Sites Reservoir begins to take shape. It also enhances the good faith effort being made by water agencies throughout the state to increase stored surface water in California, particularly in facing the uncertainties of climate change,” said Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record.
“Southern California certainly understands the value of having water reserves. During the drought, we were able to draw on our record storage to meet demands with as little impact on consumers and businesses as possible,” Record said.

The Sites Reservoir Project, with a preliminary cost estimate of $4.4 billion, proposes construction of two large dams and nine small saddle dams to store up to 1.8 million acre-feet of water. Most of the supplies would be diverted through existing facilities from the Sacramento River during high water flows. (An acre-foot of water is nearly 326,000 gallons, about the amount used by two typical Southern California families in a year.)

The proposed project—the seventh largest reservoir in California, if built—could yield an estimated 500,000 acre-feet of water in an average year. It also could provide supplies for the environment as well as flood control, recreation and other public benefits. Construction could begin in 2022, with the reservoir expected to be operational by 2029.
Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said the additional storage north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta offered by Sites Reservoir would be more valuable with the implementation of California WaterFix. The WaterFix proposes to modernize the state water system by building three new intakes in the northern Delta along with two tunnels to deliver water to the existing State Water Project aqueduct system in the southern Delta.

“In joining this effort, we bring considerable strengths and expertise to the project,” Kightlinger said. “Metropolitan has a long history of completing large capital projects on time and on budget, including our own Diamond Valley Lake in southwest Riverside County, which provides off-stream storage similar to what is proposed at Sites.”

Today’s board action authorizes Metropolitan to enter into a project agreement with the Sites Project Authority—comprised mainly of Northern California public water agencies—for participation in the reservoir’s planning process. Metropolitan becomes the 32nd agency to join a committee of water agencies from throughout the state in funding the initial project planning phase, including nine other State Water Project contractors.

Sites Reservoir would be the latest addition to the capacity of Metropolitan’s reserve accounts, which now tops 5 million acre-feet. Metropolitan has made water storage a priority as a tool for managing drought cycles and the impacts of climate change. Over the past 25 years, Southern California has increased by 14 times the amount of water it can store in surface water reservoirs and groundwater basins in Southern California, the Central Valley and along the Colorado River system.

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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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