NEWS WORTH NOTING: Coyote Creek feasibility study among first in the nation to receive Army Corps assistance under new federal law; San Joaquin River Restoration Program to resume restoration flows; CalDesal calls for approval of Huntington Beach desal plant

Coyote Creek feasibility study among first in the nation to receive Army Corps assistance under new federal law

From the Santa Clara Valley Water District:

In an action that will be among the first in the nation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to partner with Santa Clara Valley Water District to develop a feasibility study for reducing flood risks on Coyote Creek in Santa Clara County. This partnership is an important step toward securing funding from the United States government and state of California for a flood protection project for this creek.

Coyote Creek flooded thousands of residents in February 2017, damaging homes, property and valued personal belongings. Subsequently, the water district sought federal assistance to reduce future flooding of the creek.

In a July 14 letter to the water district, Lieutenant Colonel Travis J. Rayfield of the San Francisco District of the Army Corps, accepted the district’s request to enter into a partnership with the water district to develop a feasibility study for Coyote Creek. Under the formal agreement, which will now be drafted, the district will pay the Army Corps for the provision of technical assistance in the development of a feasibility study.

“This commitment from the Army Corps is a big win for those who live in areas prone to flooding on Coyote Creek,” said the water district’s board chair, John L. Varela. “We are grateful to Representatives Lofgren and Khanna for advocating for this action. We are running on all cylinders to push for long-needed flood risk reduction measures for Coyote Creek.”

“A feasibility study is an important step towards securing federal support for infrastructure improvements,” said Congresswoman Lofgren, who led a letter of support for the partnership this May. “We need to prevent the sort of flooding San Jose suffered earlier this year.”

“This feasibility study is a necessary action to better understand the flood risks facing the communities on and around Coyote Creek,” said Congressman Khanna. “It is my hope that the findings from it can prevent another disaster like the President’s Day flood.”

A Civil Works Feasibility Study is the initial step in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers process for addressing flood risk reduction. The study establishes the federal interest, engineering feasibility, economic justification and environmental acceptability of a water resource project recommended for Congressional authorization and construction.

Section 1126 of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 provides the water district with the ability and flexibility to advance an Army Corps feasibility process without federal funding or approvals. This commitment marks the first such application of Section 1126 in the nation.

Close coordination with the Army Corps by the water district for important study elements such as technical assistance will ensure that the feasibility report produced by the water district will meet the rigorous requirements of the Army Corps planning process.  The planning process concludes with the acceptance of the report by the Chief of Engineers Report (also known as the Chief’s Report) making it eligible for congressional authorization.

Prior to the enactment of this Section 1126, which passed as part of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act in December, non-federal interests would have to wait for the federal government to fund and carry out a feasibility study. By paying for the Army Corps’ technical assistance, the feasibility study can commence as soon as an agreement is signed between the two agencies.

While the water district will pay the Army Corps for the services provided, the agreement is a first step in establishing a federal interest in an eventual project. A federal interest, which indicates that a project’s benefits exceed the costs, must be established before the federal and state governments can contribute funding for a flood protection project. Given the high cost of a flood protection project for Coyote Creek, federal and state support is essential to provide adequate protection to the communities at risk of future flooding.

Prior to this year’s flooding, flooding occurred in similar areas along Coyote Creek during storms that occurred 20 years ago, in 1997. At that time, the water district sought assistance from the Army Corps to create flood control measures, but was turned down, as it was determined that there was not a federal interest at that time.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District manages an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean, safe water, flood protection and stewardship of streams on behalf of Santa Clara County’s nearly 1.9 million residents. The district effectively manages 10 dams and surface water reservoirs, three water treatment plants, an advanced recycled water purification center, a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, nearly 400 acres of groundwater recharge ponds and more than 275 miles of streams. We provide wholesale water and groundwater management services to local municipalities and private water retailers who deliver drinking water directly to homes and businesses in Santa Clara County.

San Joaquin River Restoration Program to Resume Restoration Flows 

From the San Joaquin River Restoration Program:

This notice is to inform you that Restoration Flows within the San Joaquin River Restoration Area resumed on July 21, 2017. This change was effective immediately throughout the system.

Friant Dam has been managed for flood control since January 4, 2017, precluding the release of Restoration Flows. However, because flood releases into the San Joaquin River are no longer necessary for reservoir management, Restoration Flows resumed.

Water users should be aware that diversions of Restoration Flows are not allowed unless authorized by Reclamation. Restoration Flows are dedicated for preservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources pursuant to Water Code section 1707 and are protected under the California Water Code.  Restoration Flows shall not be diverted or stored unless otherwise authorized by Reclamation, subject to the conditions of Reclamation’s water rights.

This change in operations to Restoration Flows is consistent with the Stipulation of Settlement, Restoration Flow Guidelines (V. 2.0, February 2017) and the Final 2017 Restoration Allocation & Default Flow Schedule issued July 10, 2017.  2017 remains a Wet Restoration Year Type with a Restoration Allocation of 556,542 acre-feet as measured at Gravelly Ford.

The current Restoration Administrator recommendation schedules 191,575 acre-feet as Restoration Flows, with the balance of 364,967 acre-feet as Unreleased Restoration Flows. These Unreleased Restoration Flows were sold to Friant long-term contractors. A copy of the allocation and default flow schedule is available here: http://www.restoresjr.net/wp-content/uploads/20170710_SJRRP-Restoration-Allocation-1.pdf

The schedule for Restoration Flow releases is provided below, which is based on Restoration Administrator’s July 21 Recommendation — this schedule may be amended in response to changing river and groundwater conditions.

Date Estimated Flow Release from Friant Dam 1
(cfs)
Scheduled Restoration Flows at Gravelly Ford 2
(cfs)
Scheduled Restoration Flows from Sack Dam
(cfs)
Volume of Scheduled Restoration Flows 3
(acre-feet)
Jul 1 –
Aug 31
350 120 43 14,757
Sep 1 –
Sep 30
350 140 62 8,331
Oct 1 –
Oct 31
350 190 109 11,683
Nov 1 –
Nov 10
700 570 451 11,305
Nov 11 –
Dec 31
350 230 451 23,266
Jan 1 –
Feb 28, 2018
350 230 147 23,266
Jan 1 –
Feb 28, 2018
350 250 166 29,256
Total Volume of Scheduled Restoration Flows ( Mar 1, 2017 through Feb 28, 2018) 191,575

1 Release at Friant Dam may be higher or lower than estimated due to channel infiltration losses, holding contract demands along the San Joaquin River, and other factors.

2 Restoration Flows at Gravelly Ford do not include 5 cfs for Holding Contracts, therefore total flow at the Gravelly Ford gauge (the Gravelly Ford flow target) will typically be 5 cfs greater than the Restoration Flows shown here.

3 Final volume of Restoration Flows will be based on the actual flows at Gravelly Ford. The scheduled flow volumes based on the Gravelly Ford gauge are shown here.

Reclamation will regularly evaluate releases at Friant Dam to achieve the flow target at Gravelly Ford. For Information about Restoration Flows, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net/restoration-goal/restoration-flows/. Restoration Flows will be limited such that no flooding or seepage impacts are expected to occur.  Reclamation will reduce Restoration Flows as necessary to maintain compliance with the Seepage Management Plan. Reclamation maintains a Seepage Hotline at 916-978-4398.

To access the Restoration Administrator recommendations, please visit http://www.restoresjr.net/documentsreports/ra-recommendations/.

For additional information about the Program, please visit our website at www.restoresjr.net or contact Josh Newcom, Public Affairs Specialist, at 916-978-5508 or via e-mail at snewcom@usbr.gov.

CalDesal Calls for Approval of World’s “Most Technologically Advanced and Environmentally Sensitive” Desal Project

Organization requests immediate approval from state agencies

From Poseidon Water:

CalDesal – a non-profit statewide organization composed of water industry leaders – today called on state agencies, including the State Lands Commission, to quickly approve the proposed desalination project in Huntington Beach, which will consist of groundbreaking technology to reduce energy use and protect the ocean ecosystem. The State Lands Commission is set to recertify the projects Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in October.

“The proposed Huntington Beach Desalination facility will be the most technologically advanced and environmentally sensitive large scale desal project in the world,” said Paul Kelley, Executive Director of CalDesal. “This project makes sense on every level and should be immediately approved so construction can finally begin on this much-needed, drought-proof water supply.”

The Huntington Beach project will be the first large-scale desalination facility in the world to include passive 1.0-mm slot wedgewire intake screen with a through-screen water velocity of less than 0.5 ft/sec.  In addition, will use the latest reverse osmosis purification technology, include a state-of-the-art diffuser to ensure low salinity levels, and will be the first large-scale water treatment plant in California to be 100% carbon neutral.

Poseidon Water, the plant’s developer, has also proposed a plan to offer funding to restore and maintain the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, providing much needed funding for the restoration and maintenance of one of California’s last remaining large-scale wetlands.

“Given California’s recent severe drought along with Southern California’s dependence on imported water we believe it is essential that the Huntington Beach project be permitted at the earliest possible time,” said Kelley. “It is also significant that both the Orange County Water District (OCWD) and the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) have expressed the need for this desalinated water in order to ensure adequate supplies for Orange County.”

The project will produce 56,000 acre feet per year (50 million gallons per day) of locally controlled, drought-proof drinking water that will reduce Orange County’s need to import water from Northern California and the Colorado River. The Huntington Beach Project is the single largest source of new, local drinking water supply available to the region and is identified in County water planning documents as a planned future water supply.

Poseidon Water specializes in developing and financing water infrastructure projects, primarily seawater desalination and water treatment plants in an environmentally sensitive manner. These projects are implemented through innovative public-private partnerships in which private enterprise assumes the developmental and financial risks. For more information on Poseidon Water and the Huntington Beach desalination facility, visit http://HBfreshwater.com.

 

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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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