NEWS WORTH NOTING: New online hub for California landowners, conservation investors to help wildlife; WATER and Winnemem Wintu Tribe file petition to set aside Crystal Geyser EIR; Mandatory lead sampling program for public schools now in effect

New online hub for California landowners, conservation investors to help wildlife

Interactive website showcases Central Valley wildlife and pairs funding sources with boots on the ground

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

Environmental Defense Fund and partners of the Central Valley Habitat Exchange have announced the launch of a new website (cvhe.org) to showcase the efforts of program participants who are conserving wildlife habitat in the Central Valley of California. These participants include a handful of California farms and ranches featured throughout the website in striking photos, personal testimonials and an interactive map.

The Central Valley Habitat Exchange is an innovative conservation program that provides new revenue opportunities for farmers and ranchers to create and maintain habitat on their working lands. The program pairs willing landowners with investors and mitigation buyers seeking to meet their conservation goals. Ultimately, the exchange was designed to streamline and attract new conservation investments, while increasing transparency and accountability.

“Our vision with the website was to make conservation come to life in the photos of local wildlife and the testimonials from stewarding landowners who are the real story behind the Central Valley Habitat Exchange,” said Ann Hayden, senior director of California wildlife at Environmental Defense Fund. “The hope is that the website inspires more landowners and conservation investors to use the exchange as a way to achieve their own conservation goals.”

The most unique conservation innovations made publically accessible with the launch of the Central Valley Habitat Exchange website include the habitat quantification tool and the exchange registry.

“The habitat quantification tool is a one-of-a-kind, robust science tool for assessing both the quantity and quality of habitat for multiple species,” Hayden said. The website features an animated explainer video of the tool. “The exchange registry tracks and reports on the status and outcomes of each conservation project, offering the utmost transparency, accountability and confidence for investors, landowners and regulators.”

Roger Cornwell is the general manager of River Garden Farms, a 15,000-acre farm growing a variety of crops including rice, sunflowers, tomatoes, safflower, wheat, alfalfa and walnuts. Cornwell is one of the program’s participants featured on the exchange website.

“Sustainability is generational for us,” Cornwell said. “My roots are here and my family is here, so it’s important to me to care for the place where my kids and their kids will live. Participating in the exchange gives us the tools and support we need to be good stewards of the entire ecosystem.”

To learn more about the Central Valley Habitat Exchange and participation, visit www.cvhe.org.

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Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. Connect with us on EDF VoicesTwitter and Facebook.

WATER and Winnemem Wintu Tribe file petition to set aside Crystal Geyser EIR

From We Advocate Through Environmental Review (WATER):

On December 12, 2017 the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors certified the flawed and incomplete Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the Crystal Geyser beverage bottling project in Mount Shasta, CA. On January 11, 2018 We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review (W.A.T.E.R.) and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe jointly filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandate (Case SCCV-CVPT-2018-41-4) in Siskiyou County Superior Court to require Siskiyou County to “to set aside their approval of the Project and certification of the EIR.”

The Petition states: “In approving the Project as described herein, Respondent County prejudicially abused its discretion in violation of CEQA … because the County certified an EIR that fails to include information necessary for informed decision making and informed public participation, including information necessary to reach informed conclusions regarding the significance of the Project’s environmental impacts, the effectiveness of mitigation measures to avoid the Project’s significant environmental impacts, or feasibility of mitigation measures to reduce the Project’s significant environmental impacts; because the EIR fails to lawfully assess the Project’s cumulative effects; because the EIR fails to use the best available information and/or accepted methodology for analyzing information; because the Final EIR fails to provide good faith responses to comments on the Draft EIR; because the County failed and refused to provide a stable, finite Project description by obscuring the fact that the only authority the County has over any aspect of Crystal Geyser’s activities relates to the caretaker’s residence Permit only; because, with respect to the findings required by CEQA, the County failed to make required findings, failed to support the findings with substantial evidence, and failed to disclose the analytic route showing how the evidence supports the findings.” (paragraph 36)

The Petition also argues that the County failed to complete AB52 consultation with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The Petition states: “In addition to improper termination of the consultation, the deficiencies of the Project description did not allow meaningful and comprehensive AB 52 consultation because there is no upper limit on the volume of water that will be extracted by Crystal Geyser, and the County asserts that it has no authority to limit the extraction amounts. Only after the Project description is corrected will the Tribe and the County be able to consult on the significance of adverse effects, mitigation measures and/or Project alternatives.” (paragraph 44)

Moreover the Petition alleges that the EIR includes impermissibly narrow project objectives, specifically “meeting market demand”, without ever explaining the urgency of such demands. The vague ‘objective‘ to assist Crystal Geyser in raising its bottom line is not an appropriate basis for dismissing feasible alternatives that would reduce the Project’s  impacts. The Petition also explains how impacts on hydrology and ground water were incorrectly modeled. These “estimations” from modeling would be completely dependent on the specific groundwater pumping, which the County approved with no caps or regulation. The EIR’s impacts analysis is also deficient on numerous issues including air quality and associated health risks, aesthetics, noise, lighting, green house gas emissions and traffic. You can see the complete Petition at: http://cawater.net/Documents/Petition4WritMandate.pdf for more information.

For over four years W.A.T.E.R. and many others have been fighting for an effective EIR on the Crystal Geyser project. For over two of those years, the County argued that NO EIR at all would be required. When finally confronted with the fact that the facility would not be able to obtain any of its needed permits for wastewater treatment or air quality without an EIR, the County produced an EIR filled with errors and omissions. W.A.T.E.R. in conjunction with the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is dedicated to fighting to ensure that if this project is to continue it MUST NOT damage our wonderful mountain environment. We have been inspired by the outpouring of support on this issue from our Community both local and throughout the country, from the hundreds of comments submitted during the EIR hearings to the generous donations to our fundraising. We have raised tens of thousands of dollars from our many supporters and have received generous grant donations from Patagonia, Lush Cosmetics’ Charity Pot, the Rose Foundation, RESIST, The Story of Stuff and the Patricia L. Kimball and David T. Kimball Fund. These funds make our legal efforts possible.

For more information contact:
Bruce Hillman (W.A.TE.R.) mountshastawater@gmail.com
Mark Miyoshi (Winnemem Wintu Tribal Historic Preservation Officer) markmwinnemem@gmail.com
Raven Stevens (Gateway Neighborhood Association) flyraven@sbcglobal.net

Mandatory Lead Sampling Program for Public Schools now in Effect

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

The State Water Resources Control Board has notified community water systems statewide that they are now required to complete lead sampling on the drinking water supplies of public schools built before 2010. This new requirement took effect Jan. 1, when Assembly Bill (AB) 746 became law.

Community water systems are required to sample for lead in drinking water at public, K-12 schools and day care and preschools on public school properties. Water systems must complete this mandatory sampling by July 1, 2019. The State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water will work with community water systems to ensure that all public schools in their service areas that were built before 2010 are sampled. Water systems that fail to comply with the law may face enforcement action from the Division of Drinking Water.

Water systems will conduct sampling at drinking fountains and faucets used for consumption and preparing food. A water system must report the testing results within two business days if any samples show lead levels above 15 parts per billion (ppb). Water systems have 10 business days to report results if samples show lead levels less than, or equal to, 15 ppb.

If a school’s lead level exceeds 15 ppb, then the water system is required to sample water entering the school to help determine the possible source of lead. The school must also take several actions, including shutting down all fountains and faucets with high lead levels, providing potable drinking water until the situation is resolved, and notifying parents and guardians of students. Additional testing may be required to determine if all or just some of the school’s fountains and faucets are required to be shut down.

Private schools are not required to be sampled under AB 746, but may request free sampling under the voluntary Lead Sampling in Schools Program, which remains in effect until Nov. 1, 2019. Public schools that requested and received sampling from their water systems under the voluntary program have met the requirements of AB 746 and do not need to be sampled again.

For more information on the Lead Sampling in Schools Program and information on AB 746, visit the State Water Board’s webpage: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/drinkingwater/leadsamplinginschools.html

 

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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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