NEWS WORTH NOTING: Ecosystem synthesis papers now available online; Reclamation to increase water releases to Klamath River to address fish health concerns; EPA announces new funding for water infrastructure projects

Ecosystem Synthesis Papers Now Available Online

From the Delta Stewardship Council:

Three synthesis papers to inform the amendment of Chapter 4 of the Delta Plan: Restore, Protect, and Enhance the Delta Ecosystems have been released and are now online.

Intended to provide context and information, these synthesis papers (also referred to as white papers) are produced by Council staff or consultants for the Council’s use as it explores the various issues facing the intersection of science and policy. Each synthesis paper concludes with implications and considerations for recommendations, policies, and performance measures for the amendment of Chapter 4.

This is an important step in the amendment process, as the Council reviews best available science on topics such as climate change, natural communities (ecosystems), and restoration and management practices, with special focus on work relevant to the Bay-Delta system.

Key findings from this set of papers were presented at the February Council meeting and open house in Courtland, CA.

To learn more about the amendment process itself, including how you can be involved, please click here.

Reclamation to increase water releases to Klamath River to address fish health concerns

Increased flows to begin this afternoon and continue through Monday; Public urged to take safety precautions on or near the river while flows are high

[Friday], the Bureau of Reclamation will increase flows below Iron Gate Dam to reduce the risk of disease for coho salmon in the Klamath River.  Beginning late this afternoon, flows below Iron Gate Dam will increase from approximately 1,800 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 6,030 cfs. Increased releases will continue for 72 hours through Monday, April 9. The public is urged to take all necessary precautions on or near the river while flows are high during this period.

On February 8, 2017, United States District Judge William H. Orrick ordered Reclamation to annually provide surface flushing flows of 6,030 cfs below Iron Gate Dam.

The increased flow event is consistent with Judge Orrick’s Order and was planned in coordination with the National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Yurok, Karuk, Hoopa Valley, and Klamath Tribes, Klamath Project water users, and PacifiCorp.

Reclamation is implementing the increased flow event now to take advantage of the current and anticipated hydrologic conditions throughout the Klamath Basin. Pairing this managed flow at Iron Gate Dam with naturally high tributary flows this weekend maximizes the potential benefits and effectiveness of the event while reducing the amount of water required out of Upper Klamath Lake. This will minimize the potential for negative impacts to the water supply and endangered Lost River and shortnose suckers in Upper Klamath Lake.

“Reclamation is working hard to balance the available water to meet the many competing needs of the Klamath Basin. Every acre-foot of water is valuable and is in limited supply. We are doing everything we can to minimize disease among Klamath River salmonid species while meeting the requirements necessary to protect suckers in Upper Klamath Lake,” said Klamath Basin Area Office Water Operations Chief Jared Bottcher.

After Monday, flows will ramp down and return to levels calculated in accordance with the 2013 Biological Opinion on operations of the Klamath Project.

Reclamation will continue to work with National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, other fisheries experts and Klamath Basin stakeholders to comply with the Order and applicable provisions of the Endangered Species Act while upholding contractual obligations to Klamath Project water users.

U.S. EPA Announces New Funding for Water Infrastructure Projects

Funding will leverage public and private investments to keep lead and other contaminants out of drinking water and upgrade aging water infrastructure

From the US EPA:

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the availability of funding that could provide as much as $5.5 billion in loans, which could leverage over $11 billion in water infrastructure projects through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program. Prospective borrowers seeking WIFIA credit assistance must submit a letter of interest (LOI) by July 6, 2018.

“Thanks to the President’s leadership, this WIFIA funding will spark new investments to repair our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “EPA will play a key role in the President’s infrastructure efforts by incentivizing states, municipalities, and public-private partnerships to protect public health, fix local infrastructure problems, create jobs, and provide clean water to communities.”

The WIFIA program received $63 million in funding in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 23, 2018. This more than doubles the program’s funding from 2017. Leveraging private capital and other funding sources, these projects could support $11 billion in water infrastructure investment and create more than 170,000 jobs. This year’s Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) highlights the importance of protecting public health including reducing exposure to lead and other contaminants in drinking water systems and updating the nation’s aging infrastructure.

“These funds create opportunities for local communities to address crucial water infrastructure needs,” said Alexis Strauss, Acting Regional Administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office. “Partnering with states and local communities to provide these low interest loans helps leverage the funding needed to protect public health and the environment.”

The WIFIA program will play an important part in making vital improvements to the nation’s water infrastructure and implementing the President’s Infrastructure Plan, which calls for increasing the program’s funding authorization and expanding project eligibility.

Background

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program at EPA that aims to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental loans for regionally and nationally significant projects.

WIFIA credit assistance can be used for a wide range of projects, including:

  • drinking water treatment and distribution projects
  • wastewater conveyance and treatment projects
  • enhanced energy efficiency projects at drinking water and wastewater facilities
  • desalination, aquifer recharge, alternative water supply, and water recycling project
  • drought prevention, reduction, or mitigation projects

EPA will evaluate proposed projects described in the LOIs using WIFIA’s statutory and regulatory criteria as described in the NOFA. Through this competitive process, EPA will select projects that it intends to fund and invite them to continue to the application process.

In 2017, for WIFIA’s inaugural round, EPA invited 12 projects in 9 states to apply for more than $2 billion in WIFIA loans.

For more information about WIFIA and this funding announcement, visit: https://www.epa.gov/wifia

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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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