NEWS WORTH NOTING: LAO reports on Oroville Dam, federal funding; Byron-Bethany Irrigation District, San Diego County Water Authority win awards; Weekly water and climate report

New LAO reports on Oroville Dam Spillway Incident, Federal funding for natural resources and environmental protection

The Legislative Analyst’s office has two new offerings:

A hearing handout from yesterday’s oversight hearing, An Overview of the Oroville Dam Spillway Incident

A web page, Federal Funding for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, which provides detail on federal funding for the state’s natural resources and environmental protection programs, with a focus on the five state departments that receive the most federal funds last year.

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District Honored with Statewide Water Award

From Byron-Bethany Irrigation District:

In recognition of its victorious, high-stakes stand to protect some of the oldest water rights in California, Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) was honored Wednesday with the 2017 ACWA (Association of California Water Agencies) Excellence in Water Leadership Award.

According to ACWA, the prestigious annual award recognizes those who make a “remarkable and visible contribution to the enhancement, protection or development of water resources in California.” The award was presented at ACWA’s Spring Conference in Monterey to BBID GM Rick Gilmore, and BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro, who accepted on behalf of BBID’s Board of Directors.

“On behalf of the entire District, we extend our deepest appreciation to ACWA for this incredible recognition,” Kagehiro said. “Our fight was not only for BBID, but for districts statewide, whose water rights provide the backbone of the communities we collectively serve.”

“Providing reliable water is the essence of our mission,” Gilmore said. “Though it wasn’t easy, we had no choice but to take the lead, navigating extreme regulatory uncertainty to defend the water supply that is rightfully ours.”

Amidst harsh drought in 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) issued unprecedented curtailments, and subsequently accused BBID of taking water when none was available, threatening a $5-plus million fine. BBID’s legal team fought back to preserve the District’s pre-1914 water rights, disproving the state’s arguments. The SWRCB eventually dismissed the case, securing a victory that would resonate throughout California’s water community.

“Byron-Bethany’s district staff and elected officials understood what was at stake for their community,” said ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs. “Their foresight, leadership and ability to build consensus in the face of extreme challenge kept water flowing for the residents, farmers, agricultural workers and families in their multi-county service area.”

BBID was nominated for the Excellence in Water Leadership Award by the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA), a collective of water agencies representing more than 2 million acres of 29 federal and exchange water service contractors.

“California is blessed to have thousands of dedicated water leaders who make our incredible water management system work so well,” said SLDMWA Executive Director Jason Peltier. “When leadership shines through most clearly is in a time of crisis, and Rick and his Board earned this award by leaning forward into the regulatory machine that now controls so much of our system. It took guts and commitment to secure justice. They did it.”

Demonstrating BBID’s deep connection to its community, numerous Letters of support were submitted on BBID’s behalf, including one from Gay Costa of the Mountain House School District.

“Mr. Gilmore, the BBID Board, and their staff went into the hearings with the weight of our farmers, ranchers’ community and this school on their shoulders,” Costa wrote. “The students witnessed a pillar of their community stand up for their right to carry on their family business and continue a culture deep in tradition and pride.”

Farmer Mike Sandhu also wrote in support of the District, “Without BBID’s stand, growers could have been stripped of our livelihoods and driven off our land that, for some of us, goes back generations. Their commitment secured our children’s futures. We have the water we need today – and tomorrow – thanks to BBID.”

Another letter was submitted by former BBID counsel and current in-house counsel for Placer County Water Agency, Dan Kelly.

“While, in certain circles, BBID’s decision to challenge the SWRCB’s curtailments was not popular – it was the courageous thing to do,” Kelly wrote. “Leaders are not people who simply fall in line. Leaders are people who make hard decisions; often unpopular, to achieve the right and just result. Rick Gilmore and the BBID Board of Directors did just that.” As part of the Excellence in Water Leadership Award, BBID will be privileged to present a $5,000 charitable donation to a non-profit organization of their choosing that works toward the enhancement and protection of California’s water resources.

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a multi-county special district serving parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin Counties across 47 square miles and 30,000 acres. The district serves 160 agricultural customers and approximately 12,000 residents of the Mountain House community.

San Diego County Water Authority Wins Statewide Award for Carlsbad Desalination Project

Association of California Water Agencies highlights Water Authority’s innovation in local supply development

The San Diego County Water Authority today was recognized by the nation’s largest statewide coalition of water agencies for innovation and excellence in water resources management with its addition of supplies from the Carlsbad Desalination Project.

The 2017 Clair A. Hill Water Agency Award for Excellence, presented at today’s Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) Spring Conference in Monterey, has been awarded annually since 1988 to exemplary programs developed by ACWA member agencies for managing and protecting water supplies in California. As this year’s award winner, the Water Authority will have the honor of selecting three finalists for the next annual recipient of the $5,000 Clair A. Hill scholarship, awarded to college students in a water-resources related field of study and funded by the engineering firm CH2M. The award and scholarship program were named after one of CH2M’s founding members.

“We appreciate ACWA’s recognition of how we’ve added a new dimension to our region’s water supply reliability,” said Mark Muir, chair of the Water Authority’s Board of Directors. “Many years went into planning for the desalination project, and we hope to serve as a model for how visionary thinking and prudent investments in local supply projects, combined with continued promotion of water-use efficiency, can help our communities and state secure future water-supply reliability.”

The desalination project includes the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, which produces approximately 50 million gallons of drinking water daily, and a new 10-mile pipeline and other improvements to the Water Authority’s infrastructure to integrate the desalinated seawater into the regional water supply. It supports a key directive of Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2014 Water Action Plan, which called for water agencies around the state to reduce demand for imported water. An early reminder of the plant’s value to the region came shortly after commercial operations began as its new drought-proof, locally controlled water supplies helped reduce and eventually eliminate state-mandated water-saving targets during the height of the drought in 2016. The plant has contributed to statewide efforts to minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and gained notice from ACWA as the first major infrastructure project in California to eliminate its carbon footprint.

“San Diego County Water Authority’s Carlsbad Desalination Project is an example of the creative ingenuity local agencies across California are displaying as they work to bolster local water supplies,” said ACWA President Kathleen Tiegs. “The project re-engineered the way water is delivered, all on a scale that has never been accomplished in the United States.”

Completed in December 2015, the plant is the result of a public-private partnership between the plant’s developer and owner, Poseidon Water, and the Water Authority. The Water Authority purchases up to 56,000 acre-feet of water from the plant per year – enough to serve approximately 400,000 people annually. It’s now a major component of the Water Authority’s multi-decade strategy to diversify the region’s water supply portfolio.

To learn more about the Carlsbad Desalination Project, go to . For more information about the Water Authority’s advances in diversifying the region’s water supplies, go to .

To read ACWA’s news release about the award, go to .

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The San Diego County Water Authority sustains a $222 billion regional economy and the quality of life for 3.3 million residents through a multi-decade water supply diversification plan, major infrastructure investments and forward-thinking policies that promote fiscal and environmental responsibility. A public agency created in 1944, the Water Authority delivers wholesale water supplies to 24 retail water providers, including cities, special districts and a military base.

Weekly water and climate update:  Water supply forecasts show substantial runoff in the central West

From the USDA:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.

The May 1 water supply forecasts for the western U.S. show well above average streamflow from California to Montana. States across this area are forecast for above 180% of normal runoff from the large snowpack in the region. In addition, most of the Pacific Northwest is forecast to be above average, whereas a few stations, mainly in Montana, South Dakota, Colorado, southern Utah, and New Mexico, are forecast to be below average.


Click here to open the report.

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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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