NEWS WORTH NOTING: DWR finalizes $85.8Million in grants for SGMA implementation; Restore the Delta calls on DISB to improve public access to water quality data; Trump Administration proposes ending most protections for nearly 300 threatened species

DWR Finalizes $85.8Million in Grants for Local Implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

From the Department of Water Resources:

The California D epartment of Water Resources (DWR) today announced awarding $85.8 million in grants for groundwater sustainability projects that directly benefit severely disadvantaged communities . The final grants also fund the development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) by local agencies. The list of awards and submitted applications can be found here .

The funds support the goals of the landmark 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act ( SGMA), which requires local agencies to sustainably manage the state’s groundwater basins.

“ Sustainable management of our groundwater basins is a critical element of making our communities more resilient in the face of climate change and drought,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “ These funds direct critically needed resources to disadvantaged communities and newly formed groundwater sustainability agencies so that they may address regional water supply challenges now and in the future.”

DWR received 78 applications in response to the 2017 Sustainable Groundwater Planning (SGWP) grant solicitation with a total request of $86.4 million . DWR is announcing full awards to 77 applicants and a partial award to one applicant. The final awards are consistent with the draft recommendations, announced on Feb. 6, 2018 . The competitive grants are funded by Proposition 1 passed by California voters in 2014 .

Of the $85.8 million awarded:

  • $16.2 million will support groundwater sustainability planning and management benefitting severely disadvantaged communities.
  • $69.6 million will support GSP development by groundwater sustainability agencies. Of this amount, $3.4 million is being tentatively awarded to three applicants that submitted an alternative plan to DWR in 2017. If the alternative plans are subsequently approved by DWR, the tentative awards would be withdrawn since applicants with approved alternative plans are ineligible for this funding.

The funding provides a means for local communities to create long-term sustainable groundwater management plans as required by law that help protect basins and t heir beneficial uses. Ultimately these plans are intended to facilitate basin-wide and regional sustainability. DWR will begin working with the grant applicants to develop and execute grant agreements.

More information about the Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program can be found here .

Restore the Delta Calls on Delta Independent Science Board to Improve Public Access to Water Quality Data

From Restore the Delta:

On Wednesday, Restore the Delta submitted a letter to the Delta Independent Science Board (DISB) and the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) calling DISB members to further improve and expand their scope of data processes. Specifically, Restore the Delta requested that the DISB summarize and define the range of stakeholders in the Delta, and provide a public-friendly document that explains the potential threats and opportunities related to water quality monitoring and research completed by the DISB.

Restore the Delta’s letter concludes,
“Finally, in the next product on this subject from the DISB, we hope you will consider providing a synthesis that describes contemporary baselines for chemical contaminants and nutrients in Delta waters, including loadings and concentrations, pathways of interactions, ecological mobilizations and connections, and trends (e.g., worsening or improving and why). The current water quality science review is to some extent scoped as “inside baseball” for direct producers and agency science consumers of water quality data. But the DISB, as an advisory body to a public agency like the Delta Stewardship Council should, in Restore the Delta’s view, go the extra mile and produce a public-friendly document that informs the public about the threats and opportunities the DISB sees in the existing level of water quality monitoring and research now under way and for what investment, an even more comprehensive monitoring and research program might return for water decision-makers and the public alike.”

Policy analyst for Restore the Delta, Tim Stroshane said,
“The Delta Independent Science Board’s water quality science review of ‘contaminants and nutrients’ addressed some major stressors from the supply side of the Delta. Restore the Delta thinks this is important, but only part of the story. Our letter highlights how data on how humans use the Delta in relation to mercury, selenium, and harmful algal blooms is crucial to getting better water quality policies that protect public health and environmental justice. Studies that produce such information for decision-makers and the public are long overdue.”

Executive director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said,
“The public should be able to easily access and understand data that maps out how their sources of clean water have been and could be affected by climate change and new water storage and infrastructure projects that are on the table for discussion. Clean water is the most vital public resource on the planet and our most basic human need, yet our systems that govern how water is distributed, managed, and measured are often too complex or lacking well-rounded context that would enable all Californians to participate in protecting and improving our state’s water supplies.”

Trump Administration Proposes Ending Most Protections for Nearly 300 Threatened Species

Rule Would Eliminate 40-year-old Protective Framework in Major Gift to Polluters

From the Center for Biological Diversity:

The U.S. Department of the Interior quietly sent a proposed rule to the White House on Monday that would effectively rescind most protections for nearly 300 species designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The rule targets about 70 species in California, another 20 in Hawaii, and scores more fish, birds, mammals and plants around the country. They include southern sea otters, northern spotted owls, piping plovers, red knots, Yosemite toads, delta smelt, Santa Catalina Island foxes and gopher tortoises. (A full list is available on request).

Monday’s proposal would rescind a crucial 40-year-old rule. In 1975 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enacted a rule granting threatened species the same level of protection as endangered species; only if the Service determined that fewer protections were warranted could protections be relaxed.

“The Trump administration just issued a death sentence to nearly 300 threatened species,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “If enacted, this rule could be the end for iconic wildlife like the northern spotted owl and southern sea otter. Trump is erasing America’s natural heritage to make his friends richer and allow polluters to ravage our environment. It’s disgraceful.”

In 2016 an extreme right-wing advocacy group called the Pacific Legal Foundation petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to rescind the 1975 protective regulation. The petition was authored by Damien Schiff, who was later nominated by President Trump to be a federal judge.

“If these critical protections for threatened species are eliminated, Trump will go down in history as the extinction president,” said Greenwald. “This administration’s assault on critical safeguards for our air, water and wildlife is not supported by the American public. It threatens to undo decades of progress towards improving the health of the environment for people and wildlife alike.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.6 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

 

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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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