NEWS WORTH NOTING: Report: Groundwater trading as a tool for implementing SGMA; New salmon habitat project completed on Sacto River; Chowchilla Water District and Fresno Irrigation District rejoin Friant Water Authority; River report examines climate change impact on Colorado River basin

Report: Groundwater trading as a tool for implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

Groundwater was the primary lifeline for Californians during the State's recent drought. When surface water resources in rivers, canals, and reservoirs dwindled, groundwater filled the gap. However, unregulated groundwater pumping led to other concerns: seawater intrusion, shallow wells running dry, land subsidence, and depletion of connected and already stressed surface waters. The passage of comprehensive groundwater management policy, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), was well overdue by 2014. Nonetheless, many Californians who depend on groundwater worry that SGMA will weaken their water security in the near-term.

The Environmental Defense Fund and Mammoth Trading released a report in December describing how groundwater trading can be a compelling and cost-effective tool in achieving the goals of SGMA. While trading is not a panacea, done right, it can reward conservation, create new revenue streams for groundwater users, boost a community's drought resilience, and improve aquifer conditions.

Click here to read and download the report.

New Salmon Habitat Project Completed on Sacramento River

14th Project Completed to Benefit Salmon in the Sacramento Valley

COTTONWOOD – A Sacramento River side channel in Tehama County has been restored to improve salmon rearing habitat on the Sacramento River. The project is the result of a collaborative partnership of state and federal agencies, local water districts, and conservation groups, and marks the 14th project completed over the last two years to benefit salmon in the Sacramento Valley. Construction at the project site, which is located just south of the gated Lake California community between river mile 269 and 270, has been completed but monitoring of the site will be ongoing.

“As the project’s construction manager, we are pleased with the partnership effort to improve this natural resource for salmonid species and water users. It is great to have such a meaningful project take place in our backyard with a positive local and downstream impact,” said Vicky Dawley, Resource Conservation District of Tehama County.

The purpose of the Lake California Side Channel Restoration Project was to create a functional side channel at lower flows to provide additional rearing habitat for winter-run juvenile salmonids, as well as other species. Currently, adult winter-run Chinook migrate upstream and spawn during the summer. Fry emergence occurs during fall, when typically flows in the Sacramento River are reduced significantly at the end of the irrigation season, which can cause stranding issues as well as reducing prime rearing habitat for juveniles.

“This is a great example of the innovative and collaborative projects being carried out throughout the Sacramento Valley right now to address all stages of the fish life cycle, helping to improve their chances of survival,” said Jane Dolan, Sacramento River Forum. “While each project executed provides independent value, the comprehensive implementation through these creative partnerships help advance salmon recovery in the Sacramento River Basin.”

“Sacramento Valley water suppliers are committed to the development of projects that will ultimately help us manage water resources in a way that satisfies the co-equal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem benefits,” added Lewis Bair, General Manager for Reclamation District 108.

The Lake California Side Channel Project was completed to remove accumulated gravel at the inlet and reconnect the existing side channel to the River during the low flows of late fall and early winter. The gravel accumulation had also led to impacts downstream, including sediment accumulation, increased predator habitat and decreased dissolved oxygen. These changes decreased the aquatic habitat function for winter run juveniles. By excavating the inlet of the side channel, flow volume and velocity were restored during this critical period for winter run juveniles, increasing the rearing function of the downstream portion of the side channel at low flows.

Project partners excavated and dredged the accumulated gravel from the side channel; relocated excavated gravel; installed temporary culverts; and constructed a temporary stream crossing for channel access. The crews excavated approximately 2,000 cubic yards of gravel in approximately a 0.80-acre area in the channel. The relocated gravel will be reintroduced to the river during high flow in the Sacramento River.

This project is part of a continuing program developed and implemented by the Department of the Interior (DOI) as part of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act (CVPIA). The programs purpose is to restore and replenish, as needed, salmonid spawning gravel lost due to the construction and operation of the Central Valley Project dams and other actions that have reduced the availability of spawning gravel and rearing habitat in the Sacramento River from Keswick Dam to Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

Project Partners include: U.S Bureau of Reclamation; Chico State University; CSU Chico Geographical Information Center; California Department of Water Resources; California Department of Fish and Wildlife; The Sacramento River Forum; The Resource Conservation District of Tehama County; Reclamation District 108; Provident Irrigation District; Princeton-Cordora-Glenn Irrigation District; Steve Tussing Ecological Services; Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission; and Tehama Environmental Solutions.

For more information on the project, visit: https://www.facebook.com/TCRCD.

For more information on Sacramento Valley salmon recovery efforts, visit www.norcalwater.org.

Chowchilla Water District and Fresno Irrigation District Rejoin Friant Water Authority

From the Friant Water Authority:

During their December meetings the Board of Directors of the Chowchilla Water District (CWD) and Fresno Irrigation Districts (FID) voted unanimously to become full General Members of the Friant Water Authority (FWA). It is expected that the FWA Board will approve the requests during its first meeting in 2018.

The actions of the two District Boards mark the end of the process to fully rejoin the Friant Water Authority.  FID has been a Trial Member since March 2017 and CWD has been an Associate Member since July 2017.   By becoming General Members, both Districts will have a voting seat on the FWA Board of Directors.

Kent Stephens, Chairman of FWA and President of Kern-Tulare Water District commented, “It is exciting to see past members of FWA deciding to return.  It has been a priority of the FWA board to build a team that can effectively represent the member agencies and help ensure the Friant Division and surrounding areas has a reliable water supply now and in the future.  Both CWD and FID have had the opportunity to see first-hand how the new FWA operates, its commitment to its customers, and its desire to become a leader in water issues in the San Joaquin Valley.”

Kole Upton, current President of the Chowchilla WD, served as FWUA’s Chairman from 1998 to 2008, and has been CWD’s representative on the Board since July added, “Chowchilla Water District voted unanimously at its monthly meeting to rejoin Friant Water Authority as a regular General Member effective 1/1/2018.  This action is a direct reflection of the vast improvement in the Friant staff, and Friant's re-establishing itself at THE ORGANIZATION that represents the water interests of the East San Joaquin Valley.”

George Porter, representing the Fresno Irrigation District, had this to say about becoming a General Member, “Fresno Irrigation District’s decision to return to the Friant Water Authority is a direct reflection of the major reorganization and new management changes made in the past two years.  FID has been impressed with the new organization and the leadership under their new CEO, in addressing global issues impacting Friant water supplies and developing new opportunities for future water supplies.  In addition, FID will benefit by being represented by a larger organization such as FWA on local, state, and federal issues.”

The Chowchilla Water District serves approximately 85,000 acres situated in southern Merced County and northern Madera County on the eastside of the San Joaquin Valley. The District serves over 400 water users, with an average farm size of about 162 acres. The Fresno Irrigation District serves approximately 247,000 acres, and over 4,000 water users. Crops in both districts include, grapes, citrus, almonds, alfalfa, and wheat.

Jason Phillips, CEO of the FWA, added his insight. “Having both Chowchilla and Fresno back as full General Members is an important step in strengthening and diversifying the voice of the Friant Water Authority. Both Districts have long played a critical role in water issues on the Eastside, and having them back as General Members will provide tremendous value both to the board and the entire Friant Division.”

The membership of FWA is now comprised of 15 members, including: Arvin-Edison Water Storage District, Chowchilla Water District, City of Fresno, Fresno Irrigation District, Hills Valley Irrigation District, Kaweah Delta Water Conservation District, Kern-Tulare Water District, Lindmore Irrigation District, Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District, Madera Irrigation District, Orange Cove Irrigation District, Porterville Irrigation District, Saucelito Irrigation District, Terra Bella Irrigation District, and Tulare Irrigation District.

FWA is a joint-powers authority formed in 2004 by a majority of the water agencies receiving water from the Friant Division of the Central Valley Project. Its primary purposes are to operate and maintain the Friant-Kern Canal and to serve the information and representation needs of its member agencies.

River report examines climate change impact on Colorado River basin

From the Water Education Foundation:

Drought and climate change are having a noticeable impact on the Colorado River Basin, and that is posing potential challenges to those in the Southwestern United States and Mexico who rely on the river.

In the just-released Winter 2017-18 edition of River Report, writer Gary Pitzer examines what scientists project will be the impact of climate change on the Colorado River Basin, and how water managers are preparing for a future of increasing scarcity.

Already, climate change is showing its effects. Snowpack in the Basin is smaller and it’s melting earlier, diminishing the river system’s natural reservoir. Water managers have been vexed for years by persistent drought along the Colorado. In 2016, water in Lake Mead fell to levels not seen since 1937, when the reservoir behind Hoover Dam was first filling.

Complicating solutions is the long-established framework for dividing the river’s waters and deciding who is first in line when there’s too little to go around. The uncertainty surrounding both the supply and increasing demand is pressing water managers to find ways to cooperate, collaborate and adapt.

River Report, the Water Education Foundation’s biannual Colorado River newsletter, is a free resource for the public.

Read “A Warmer Future and Increased Risk” here.

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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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