AquAlliance: Significant Legal Win for North State: 10-Year Water Transfer Program Failed Analysis and Disclosure
The federal district court in Fresno issued a strong order yesterday supporting many of the claims made by AquAlliance and co-plaintiff partners. The lawsuit was filed in May 2015 against the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority (SLDMWA) over their inadequate disclosure, avoidance of impacts, and mitigation of major water transfers from the Sacramento Valley through the Delta to the San Joaquin Valley.
AquAlliance Executive Director Barbara Vlamis stated, “AquAlliance is elated that the court found in favor of many of our legal arguments that seek to protect the communities, environment, and groundwater dependent farmers in the Sacramento Valley as well as Delta farmers and fish. This ruling exposes the danger posed by the 10-Year Water Transfer Program’s water-grab that would benefit agricultural interests with junior water rights growing permanent crops in a desert.”
USBR and SLDMWA (Agencies) approved a Program that could send up to 600,000 acre-feet of Sacramento Valley water south of the Delta – each year. When combined with additional state approved transfers, the total could be over 800,000 acre-feet each year. If history is any guide, half of the transfer water could come from groundwater substitution. Although widely opposed by NorthState residents and local government, the Agencies moved forward approving the use of groundwater substitution, fallowing, reservoir releases, and conservation to make the transfers possible. The Agencies proposed a thin veneer for mitigating impacts that depends only on monitoring the stressed hydrologic systems (groundwater, streams, and rivers) to produce data that will be reviewed in the future by USBR and the California Department of Water Resources (DWR).
The lawsuit asked the court to declare that the Agencies’ Environmental Impact Statement/Report was arbitrary and capricious, ignored relevant new information and failed to meet minimum requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The court order ruled in favor of AquAlliance in many areas for example:
1. CEQA claims
a. The absence of performance standards for groundwater mitigation measure.
b. The FEIS/EIR failure to mitigate for land subsidence.
c. The inadequate cumulative biological impact analysis regarding reduced delta outflow.
d. The FEIS/EIR’s failure to analyze impacts to the giant garter snake and propose mitigation.3
2. NEPA claims
a. Failure to evaluate the effectiveness of groundwater mitigation.
b. Climate change.
AquAlliance’s co-plaintiff, represented by Aqua Terra Aeris, is the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. Additional co-plaintiffs in the litigation are also the Central Delta Water Agency, Local Agencies of the North Delta, and South Delta Water Agency that are represented by the Soluri Meserve law firm.
AB 1755 Open and Transparent Water Data Act Progress Report: Draft report now available for comment
We are pleased to announce the release of the Progress Report for Implementing the Open and Transparent Water Data Act with Initial Draft Strategic Plan and Preliminary Protocols. This progress report on the implementation of the Open and Transparent Water Data Act (AB 1755, Dodd) includes project background, discussion of communication and engagement process to date, an initial draft strategic plan, preliminary protocols, and by citation, supporting information, reports, and references used in its preparation.
For your convenience, below are links to work products from data initiatives informing AB 1755 implementation:
Data for Water Decision-Making (use cases): https://www.law.berkeley.edu/research/clee/research/wheeler/data/
Draft Open Water Information Architecture (Version 2.0): https://www.water.ca.gov/LegacyFiles/ab1755/docs/Helly-OWIA-SRD-Master_version2.0_draft.pdf
We invite you to review the progress report and welcome your feedback. Please send comments to email@example.com, or you may fax them to (916) 651-9289 Attn: Christina McCready. Comments received by March 16, 2018 will inform development of an April 2018 progress report, which will include a final strategic plan, evolving protocols and standards, governance and funding options, and an implementation plan.
OC Agencies Set GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Title For Most Wastewater Recycled Into Drinking Water In 24 Hours
From the Orange County Water District:
The Orange County Water District (OCWD) and Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) today succeeded in the attempt to set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the Most wastewater recycled to drinking water in 24 hours.
The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title was achieved by the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), which is the world’s largest water purification facility of its kind. This achievement commemorates the 10th anniversary of the facility, a collaboration between the two districts.
“Recycling wastewater is critical to protecting and effectively managing our local water supplies at a time when we are facing extreme weather and droughts,” said OCWD President Denis Bilodeau. “We hope this achievement will raise awareness and better understanding of the importance of facilities like the GRWS because the potential of water recycling in California, and around the world, is tremendous.”
“This is a time to celebrate and learn about this proven technology that is so vital to sustaining our communities and our natural environment,” said OCSD Board Chairman and GWRS Steering Committee Vice-Chair Greg Sebourn. “We have the technology now to produce safe drinking water that ensures long-term reliability of local supplies.”
The GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempt to produce the most wastewater recycled into drinking water in 24 hours started at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15. The successful completion of the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title attempt was announced Friday, Feb. 16, during the Winter Fest, a public event that was held at the GWRS facility. The celebration included a community toast with recycled water from the facility.
“This was an incredible attempt that impacted the local community and environment. It provided perspective on the process of making water safe for consumption,” said Philip Robertson, official GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS adjudicator. “We congratulate the efforts of Orange County Water District and Orange County Sanitation District and welcome them into the Guinness World Records family.”
Currently, regulations limit the use of advanced purified water to replenish groundwater basins even though the GWRS facility creates water that exceeds state and federal drinking water standards. California law AB 2022, adopted in 2016, seeks to expand the public’s awareness of water treatment advancements by allowing agencies such as OCWD to bottle highly purified recycled water to be handed out for free as an educational tool. The water is so pure, it is near-distilled in quality. The awareness effort is occurring as the state marches toward direct potable reuse of this water.
Around the world there are facilities similar to the GWRS, but the Orange County facility is considered the largest of its kind. The GWRS currently produces 100 million gallons a day of highly purified recycled water to inject into the Orange County Groundwater Basin, managed by OCWD, to increase local drinking water supplies and to prevent seawater intrusion. Work will soon be under way to expand its capacity to produce 130 million gallons a day of purified recycled water—enough for 1 million people.
“For more than a century, California has relied on rivers like the Colorado and Sacramento for our water. Today, we demonstrated we have new rivers to utilize,” said renowned climate expert and scientist Bill Patzert, who emceed the celebration program. “It makes perfect sense to use the technology we have today to use the water we have right in our backyard and recycle it for drinking water.”
For more information about the GWRS, visit www.ocwd.com/gwrs.
About the Orange County Water District
The District is committed to enhancing Orange County’s groundwater quality and reliability in an environmentally friendly and economical manner. The following cities utilize the groundwater basin managed by OCWD and receive approximately 75 percent of their water supply from it: Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda. For more information about the Orange County Water District and its board of directors, call (714) 378-3200 or visit www.ocwd.com.
About the Orange County Sanitation District
OCSD is a public agency that provides wastewater collection, treatment, and recycling for approximately 2.6 million people in central and northwest Orange County. OCSD is a special district that is governed by a 25-member Board of Directors comprised of 20 cities, four special districts, and one representative from the Orange County Board of Supervisors. OCSD has two operating facilities that treat wastewater from residential, commercial and industrial sources. For more information, about the Orange County Sanitation District visit www.ocsd.com or call (714) 962-2411.
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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.