NEWS WORTH NOTING: Water Solutions Network names inaugural cohort; Applicant sought for Klamath River Coho habitat restoration projects; Habitat Conservation Plan supports infrastructure improvements in Yolo County; Centennial Dam declared ineligible for state funding

Water Solutions Network Names Inaugural Cohort

The Water Solutions Network announces its first cohort of leaders focused on cross-sector collaboration for California’s water future. Timing is critical, because over the next ten years, California will make decisions that define our ability to manage water through extreme hydrological conditions. Now more than ever, the state needs leaders who can cross boundaries, connect resources, and choose bold action that serves California’s communities, farms, and nature. The 24 member cohort represents multiple sectors and communities across California and a variety of stakeholder groups in the water system, including farm bureaus, water districts, environmental advocacy nonprofits, and others.

The Water Solutions Network is guided by its Advisory Council, a group of recognized leaders dedicated to strengthening the experience of network participants by serving as informal mentors, sharing their experiences at network events, and connecting participants with broader professional circles.

“Climate change means that we will have to better manage prolonged dry spells and unpredictable, out of season deluges,” said Celeste Cantu, CEO of Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL). “Zero-sum thinking and water-policy making in silos has exacerbated the problem. The Water Solutions Network can reset the table by cultivating networks of leaders who understand that solutions to California’s water challenges must be collaborative.”

This era of water management calls for people skilled in working across sectors and with multiple stakeholders. As such, the Water Solutions Network selected leaders who embody these traits and are committed to solving California’s most pressing water management issues. The cohort will tackle issues from activating a systems-based approach to water management to pursuing an equitable water future for all Californians, and will participate in an immersive six-session leadership and network development experience.

The The Water Solutions Network is a partnership of Coro Northern California, DIG IN, and Water Education for Latino Leaders (WELL), with sponsorship from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. The Water Solutions Network will continue to hold sessions for the cohort throughout California, and deliver experiences designed to enhance their policy knowledge and professional network. The Water Solutions Network will continue to share news and updates, and more information can be found at www.watersolutionsnetwork.org.

Applicant sought for Klamath River Coho Habitat Restoration Projects

Up to $1 million available for projects in 2018; Public RFP Webinar on May 8

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

The Bureau of Reclamation, PacifiCorp and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), in close coordination with NOAA Fisheries, are seeking applications for funding to implement coho habitat restoration projects within the Klamath River and its tributaries downstream of Iron Gate Dam.

The joint Request for Proposals (RFP) will make available up to $1 million in grants during 2018 through Reclamation’s Klamath River Coho Habitat Restoration Program (up to $500,000, contingent upon appropriations) and PacifiCorp’s Klamath River Coho Enhancement Fund ($500,000). The pre-proposal deadline is Friday, June 1. The RFP is available on NFWF’s website at http://www.nfwf.org/klamathbasin/klamathcoho/Pages/2018combinedrfp.aspx.

Reclamation, PacifiCorp, NOAA Fisheries, and NFWF will host an RFP Webinar for the public, which will include an overview of the programs, details regarding the types of projects that will be given priority, and an overview of the proposal process and requirements. The Webinar will be held:

Tuesday, May 8, 2018 from 10 am to 12 noon PST
Register for the Webinar here:
https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8159851112933824514

The program aims to fund projects that meet the requirements outlined in the 2013 Biological Opinion on Reclamation’s Klamath Project Operations and to achieve conservation objectives contained in PacifiCorp’s Klamath Hydroelectric Project Interim Operations Habitat Conservation Plan for Coho Salmon. Both programs enhance the survival and recovery of coho salmon in the Klamath River, where coho are listed as threatened pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

Successful proposals will provide access to cold water habitat, create or enhance instream habitat, remove barriers or otherwise improve access, or provide water conservation. Regardless of the project type, successful proposals must demonstrate direct benefits for coho salmon. The geographic focus of these programs is within the mainstem Klamath River and tributaries below Iron Gate Dam.

Since 2009, PacifiCorp and Reclamation have contributed a combined $6.3 million toward habitat restoration for coho salmon in the Klamath River.

Habitat Conservation Plan Supports Infrastructure Improvements in Yolo County

Proposed Plan will Offset Impact to 12 Plant and Animal Species

From the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the Notice of Availability for the Final Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan prepared by the Yolo Habitat Conservancy, Yolo County, and the cities of Davis, West Sacramento, Winters and Woodland. The Final HCP, NCCP and environmental documents released today cover future permitting of urban development, transportation, and infrastructure activities within Yolo County, California.

The Final HCP proposes strategies to avoid, minimize, and offset potential direct, indirect, and cumulative effects of development, public service, agricultural, and conservation strategy implementation activities on 12 species—some of which are federally listed as threatened or endangered.  The proposed activities will be located within a 654,723 acre plan area in Yolo County (653,549 acres) and on the south side of Putah Creek in Solano County (1,174 acres).

The Final Yolo HCP and NCCP will streamline and expedite the process for authorizing covered projects and activities and allow local governments to process projects directly.  It also balances the need for new urban growth and infrastructure with the need to conserve natural landscapes, aquatic resources, and native wildlife and plant species in Yolo County.

Habitat conservation plans ensure there is adequate minimizing and mitigating of the effects non-federal activities have on threatened and endangered species, as required under Section 10 of the Endangered Species Act.  The Service regularly engages conservation partners, the public, landowners, government agencies, and other stakeholders in our ongoing effort to identify innovative strategies for conserving and recovering species at risk.  Habitat conservation plans provide a roadmap for species recovery that is essential to protecting ecosystems that benefit society as a whole.

This announcement opens a 30-day public inspection period on the Final HCP and NCCP that will close May 30, 2018.  The Federal Register Notice, Final HCP, NCCP and Environmental Impact Statement and joint Environmental Impact Report are available at www.fws.gov/sacramento.

For more information about the species proposed for coverage by the HCP visit www.fws.gov/sacramento.

Centennial Dam Declared Ineligible for State Funding

From the South Yuba River Citizens League:

The California Water Commission (CWC) officially declared the Centennial Dam project application ineligible for Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) Proposition 1 funding. The Commissioners’ unanimous ruling came late afternoon on Tuesday, May 1, the first day of their three-day meeting focused on finalizing the public benefit ratio scores for all WSIP project applicants.

The Nevada Irrigation District (NID), the Centennial Dam applicant, did not appear at the CWC meeting to contest this decision. However, Melinda Booth, Executive Director of the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL) testified during public comment in support of the ineligibility ruling.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Commission for your demonstrable commitment to a transparent and open public process—one that stayed true to the requirements of the Water Storage Investment Program as endorsed by public vote back in 2014,” said Booth. “In addition to the 3,000 letters opposing WSIP funding for Centennial we delivered in February, I have 400 more with me today asking you to take the final step and vote Centennial ineligible.”

Last summer, NID claimed a 4.19 public benefit ratio (PBR) on their original Centennial Dam application. Yet, they received a PBR score of “Zero” on February 2, 2018, from CWC technical reviewers, which NID did not appeal. A PBR score of zero means that for every dollar of Proposition 1 funds spent on Centennial, the Centennial project would provide $0.00 of public ecosystem and recreational benefits to California and Californians.
“Zero cents on the dollar is a horrible rate of return for California taxpayers. Once again, the proposed Centennial Dam proves itself to be a financial boondoggle for ratepayers and taxpayers,” said Booth.

The PBR is one of four scoring components in the WSIP application evaluation process. The PBR score determines how much WSIP money a project could be awarded, since the WSIP funds are intended to pay for the public benefits of water storage projects. Now that the Centennial Dam project has been found ineligible, the Centennial application will not move forward in the Commission’s evaluation process. Final application scores for all eligible projects should be posted on July 6, and “Maximum Conditional Eligibility Determinations” will be decided at the Commission’s July 24-26 meeting.

“Thanks to the Commission’s May 1 ineligibility declaration, the Centennial Dam application will not be part of the WSIP ranking process,” added Booth. “While this action in itself does not stop the project from being built, it does seriously question the viability of Centennial’s premise. A panel of California state experts found no value in the project as related to public benefits.”

“We applaud this ruling,” said Traci Sheehan of the Foothills Water Network. “SYRCL, the Foothills Water Network, and thousands of Nevada and Placer county citizens believe this is in the best interest of the Bear River, the Bay-Delta ecosystem, the Nevada Irrigation District, and the people of the State of California.”

SYRCL and the Foothills Water Network have been tracking NID’s Centennial Dam WSIP application since September. Based on the information provided in the application, the groups found that the Centennial project fails to qualify for this specific pool of water bond money for several reasons:

• NID submitted an incomplete application for Centennial Dam.
• NID failed to demonstrate with appropriate studies how the project would create net environmental and recreational public benefits. It also failed to show benefits to the Delta or tributaries to the Delta.
• The environmental, cultural and economic damage this project would bring to the Bear River contradicted the stated goals of the WSIP and Proposition 1 funding per Chapter 8 at 79752 of the Water Bond.

More information regarding the Water Storage Investment Program may be found online at: https://cwc.ca.gov/Pages/Home.aspx.

About the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL)
SYRCL (pronounced “circle”), is the leading voice for the protection and restoration of the Yuba River watershed. Founded in 1983 through a rural, grassroots campaign to defend the South Yuba River from proposed hydropower dams, SYRCL has developed into a vibrant community organization with over 3,500 members and volunteers based in Nevada City, CA. SYRCL and allies recently collected and submitted more than 3,400 letters to the California Water Commission urging the denial of NID’s request for $11.95 million in Proposition 1 funding under the WSIP.

Foothills Water Network (FWN) is an alliance of conservation, angling and recreation groups, whose mission is to protect and enhance aquatic ecosystem health and recreation opportunities in the Yuba, Bear and American rivers.

 

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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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