NEWS WORTH NOTING: SCWC on Water Fix survey; Wildlife Conservation Board funds stream flow enhancement projects; State Auditor: SOCWA financial practices “sound”; Weekly water and climate update

SoCal Water Coalition: New poll finds overwhelming number of Californians recognize importance of CA Water Fix

Los Angeles, CAThe Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) today released a new poll showing 78% of Californians think California WaterFix is very/somewhat important for the future quality of life & economic vitality of our state. Strong poll results were seen from regions throughout the state – including a whopping 86% of Los Angeles-area residents saying California WaterFix is very/somewhat important (see chart below).

The strong results of PPIC’s poll illustrate that Californians know WaterFix is the best option to ensure our state has a reliable, high-quality supply of water for generations to come. Residents up and down the state believe WaterFix is an important investment for the future quality of life and economic vitality of California – and they’re absolutely right. It is imperative that we move forward with WaterFix and now.”

Charles Wilson
Executive Director
Southern California Water Coalition
Established in 1984, theSouthern California Water Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, public education partnership dedicated to informing Southern Californians about our water needs and our state’s water resources. Spanning Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Imperial, Riverside, Ventura and Kern counties, the SCWC’s members include representatives from business, government, agriculture, water agencies, labor and the general public. Visit us at www . socalwater . org and find us on Facebook.

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Stream Flow Enhancement Projects

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

At a March 22 meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.1 million in grants for 22 projects to enhance stream flows to benefit fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The Legislature appropriated funding for these projects as authorized by the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). A total of $200 million was allocated to the WCB for projects that enhance stream flow.

A total of $38.4 million—including $5 million designated for scoping and scientific projects—was allocated to the WCB for expenditure in Fiscal Year 2017/18 for the California Stream Flow Enhancement Program. Projects were chosen through a competitive grant process, judged by the WCB, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the State Water Resources Control Board. Guided by the California Water Action Plan, funding is focused on projects that will lead to direct and measurable enhancements to the amount, timing and/or quality of water for anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species; or to provide resilience to climate change.

Funded projects include:

  • A $4.8 million grant to The Wildlands Conservancy for a project to enhance stream flow on Russ Creek by reestablishing channel alignment to provide continuous summer base flows suitable for fish passage. The project is located on the southern portion of the Eel River Estuary Preserve in Humboldt County, approximately four miles west of Ferndale.
  • A $693,408 grant to the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District for the purpose of dedicating a portion of the District’s diversion water rights to instream flow use that will benefit fish and wildlife by increasing habitat for salmonids and special status species in the Mad River. The project is located on the main-stem Mad River in the Mad River Watershed with releases coming from Matthews Dam at Ruth Reservoir, approximately 48 miles southeast of Eureka and 53 miles southwest of Redding.
  • A $726,374 grant to Mendocino County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with Trout Unlimited, The Nature Conservancy and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to reduce summer diversions and improve dry season stream flows for the benefit of Coho salmon and steelhead trout. The Navarro River watershed is located approximately 20 miles south of Fort Bragg.
  • A $5 million grant to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency for a cooperative project with the Department of Water Resources and CDFW, to improve roughly 7,500 linear feet of existing channels to connect isolated ponds. This will provide fish refuge and eliminate potential stranding. This project’s design was funded by the Stream Flow Enhancement Program in 2016. The project site is within the Sacramento River watershed and is less than one mile southwest of the town of Oroville, on the east side of the Feather River.
  • $609,970 grant to the University of California Regents for a cooperative project with the University of Nevada, Reno and the Desert Research Institute, to expand monitoring, scientific studies and modeling in the Tahoe-Truckee Basin. The results will guide watershed-scale forest thinning strategies that enhance stream flow within an area that provides critical habitat for threatened species. The project is located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range, primarily on National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin and Tahoe National Forest.
  • A $851,806 grant to the Sonoma Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the Coast Ridge Community Forest and 29 landowners, to install rainwater harvesting tanks and enter into agreements to refrain from diverting stream flow during dry seasons. The project area consists of 29 properties within the coastal Gualala River, Russian Gulch and Austin Creek watersheds, which discharge to the Pacific Ocean approximately 40 miles northwest of Santa Rosa.
  • A $5.3 million grant to the Alameda County Water District for a cooperative project with the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, California Natural Resources Agency, State Coastal Conservancy and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to modify flow releases in Alameda Creek and construct two concrete fish ladders around existing fish passage barriers. This will provide salmonids access to high value habitat upstream of the project location, approximately 17 miles north of San Jose and 22 miles southeast of Oakland.
  • A $3.9 million grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with U.C. Santa Barbara and the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy to remove approximately 250 acres of the invasive giant reed (Arundo donax), which will save approximately 2,000 acre-feet of water annually for the Santa Clara River. The project is located in unincorporated Ventura County approximately two miles east of the city of Santa Paula and three miles west of the city of Fillmore, along the Santa Clara River.

Details about the California Stream Flow Enhancement Program are available on the WCB website.

State Auditor: SOCWA Financial Practices “Sound”

From the South Orange County Wastewater Authority:

A report issued Thursday by the California State Auditor supported South Orange County Wastewater Authority’s (SOCWA) efforts to modernize its financial management. The report – titled in part SOCWA “Should Continue to Improve“ its financial practices – followed an exhaustive seven-month review of the Dana Point-based agency’s financial practices, governance structure and other matters.

“We fundamentally agree with the State Auditor’s characterization of our past as well as our current efforts to ensure strong, transparent and accountable financial management,” said Dan Ferons, Chairman of SOCWA’s Board of Directors. “Since 2014, we have worked hard to transform financial systems within SOCWA. We appreciate the State Auditor’s encouragement and support to continue on our current path.”

Prior to the audit, SOCWA had faced unsubstantiated claims of missing money and financial mismanagement. These allegations were debunked in the State Auditor’s report, which labeled SOCWA’s practices “sound,” “reasonable,” and “sufficient.”

“We are a local government accountable to our member agencies and their ratepayers,” continued Ferons. “The State Auditor’s report now gives the public assurances that SOCWA is on the path to strong financial management.”

The report also outlined four ideas to help SOCWA build upon recent successes. The process-oriented recommendations include: ensure written policies to guide public information requests; consider amendments to governing documents to assign pension responsibility if SOCWA were to ever dissolve; create written guidelines for financial reporting and accountant selection process. SOCWA anticipates implementing all recommendations promptly.

The State Audit came at the request of Senator Pat Bates and Assemblyman Bill Brough. The Joint Legislative Audit Committee, a bi-partisan group of State Assembly members and Senators approved the audit in June 2017. The review was expected to cost the State about $260,000.

“We are grateful to Senator Bates, Assemblyman Brough and State Auditor Elaine Howle for their leadership,” stated Betty Burnett, SOCWA’s General Manager. “Having the State referee this matter helped bring it to a constructive conclusion. We now look forward to returning our full attention to our core mission – creating recycled water supplies, treating wastewater and protecting public health and the environment.”

Additional Resources:

Weekly Water and Climate Update: California starts spring with heavy rain and snowfall

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.

Thus far in March, California and much of Nevada have gone from near-record dry conditions to near-record rain and snowfall. The monthly gridded data map from the NOAA California Nevada River Forecast Center shows the percent of normal precipitation for March.

Heavy rain on burned areas in southern California has prompted officials to urge 30,000 people to evacuate where mudslides have occurred or are expected.

Heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada has dramatically increased the snowpack, with the latest storm adding from six inches to four feet, depending on elevation.

Click here to read 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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