NEWS WORTH NOTING: Interior Secretary calls for Central Valley Project action plan within 15 days; Issue brief: Groundwater recharge and beneficial use; CUWA releases new Issue Brief on Restoring Water Accessibility

Interior Secretary Calls for Central Valley Project Action Plan Within 15 Days

From the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday directed federal agencies to develop a plan of action that will improve operations and water deliveries by the federal Central Valley Project (CVP).

Interior Department Memo:

San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority Interim Executive Director Frances Mizuno said, “We are extremely pleased with the Secretary’s order and look forward to providing any assistance necessary to help carry out his objectives.”

Zinke ordered that a plan be delivered to the Office of the Deputy Secretary within 15 days by the Assistant Secretary-Water and Sciences, the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, and the Solicitor. The plan is to contain options that maximize water deliveries, incorporate the best science into decision-making processes, moving forward with the construction of new storage, and meeting any legal procedural requirements, among other requests.

Calling the CVP “a major water source for farms, families, industry, and fish and wildlife in California,” Zinke’s order is intended to reverse the long-term degradation of the project and the resulting harm that has been caused to productive farmland as well as threatened and endangered fish that federal protections were intended to help, but have not.

In addition to the 15 days given to develop an action plan, the Secretary has ordered that the Office of the Deputy Secretary make final recommendations for action to his office be within 10 days of receiving the report.

“This gives CVP water users hope that there will be a more balanced approach to water supply adequacy and reliability that is sorely needed on our farms and in our rural communities, in the Santa Clara Valley high tech industry, and on wildlife refuges,” said Mizuno.

Issue brief: Groundwater recharge and beneficial use

From UC Water and the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment:

Any diversion and use of surface water in California requires a water right. Today, to receive a new water right permit, an entity that wants to appropriate surface water must file an application with the Board. The Board may only approve an application if it determines that the proposed use of the water is for a reasonable and beneficial purpose. Currently, there is uncertainty about whether—and, if so, under what circumstances—the Board will consider groundwater recharge to be a beneficial use of water. California law makes clear that the act of recharging groundwater, alone, is not a beneficial use of water. Instead, the specific purpose of the recharge is key.

Although they may employ the same range of recharge techniques, there are important distinctions between (1) recharge for the purpose of storing water to be subsequently extracted by pumping for above-ground use under the water right and (2) recharge for a non-extractive use without the intention to later directly remove the water from below ground by pumping under the water right. Because most non-extractive uses are not explicitly listed as beneficial uses in statutes or regulations, the Board determines, on a case-by-case basis, whether a non-extractive use amounts to a beneficial use of surface water. And details on the process for applying for a surface water right or water right change for non-extractive use are slim to non-existent. This may discourage potential rechargers from submitting an application for such a use.

Our UC Water Issue Brief assesses the current status of groundwater recharge in relation to the beneficial use doctrine and provides recommendations for clarifying current policy in order to encourage groundwater recharge projects.

Click here to download the issue brief.

CUWA releases new Issue Brief on Restoring Water Accessibility

Hundreds of communities in California lack access to clean, safe drinking water. The California Urban Water Agencies (CUWA) and many other entities have studied the challenges of failing water systems, but because achieving progress has been slow, the struggle continues.

While the State assesses funding options, CUWA believes we can make immediate progress by informing and advancing technical and institutional solutions. CUWA’s new issue brief, Restoring Water Accessibility in California, identifies water systems that can be targeted first for immediate progress, recommends a strategy to achieve compliance, and encourages the State and other partners to take a leadership role in breaking the cycle of unsafe drinking water.

Click here to read this issue brief.


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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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