NEWS WORTH NOTING: New SGMA reports on groundwater pumping allocations, depletion requirements; Court issues narrow ruling applying the public trust doctrine to groundwater; EPA reaches agreement with LADWP over damage to wetlands

New reports available on Groundwater Pumping Allocations and Depletion Requirements under SGMA

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

Two new reports are available to aid Groundwater Sustainability Agencies in preparing and implementing their Groundwater Sustainability Plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA):

Groundwater Pumping Allocations under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Groundwater Sustainability Agencies

This paper, co-authored with New Current Water and Land, addresses one major dilemma facing Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs): how to comply with SGMA without changing groundwater rights. It starts by providing background on groundwater law and then recommends one approach among four to develop an allocation scheme that is most likely to withstand a court challenge.

Depletion Requirements in California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

In this paper, Environmental Defense Fund proposes an approach for GSAs to address surface water depletions – also known as the “sixth deadly sin” or “Undesirable Result No. 6” – under SGMA.

Court of Appeal Issues Narrow Ruling Applying the Public Trust Doctrine to Certain Groundwater Extractions

From Somach Simmons & Dunn:

The Third Appellate District of the California Court of Appeal (Third DCA) ruled last week that Siskiyou County (County) and the State Water Resources Control Board (Board) have public trust duties to consider the adverse impacts of groundwater extraction on the Scott River.  The Third DCA further held that the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) does not, on its face, abrogate the public trust duty.  Although the decision is an important one of first impression and should catch the attention of water users statewide, the ruling is “extraordinarily narrow” and only addresses “whether the enactment of SGMA, without more, abolishes or fulfills the common law duty to consider the public trust interests before allowing groundwater extraction that potentially harms a navigable waterway.”  Environmental Law Foundation v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (Aug. 29, 2018, No. C083239) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ [2018 Cal. App. LEXIS 775, at *4].  A copy of the decision is available here.

Click here to continue reading at Somach Simmons & Dunn.

U.S. EPA reaches agreement with Los Angeles Department of Water and Power over damage to wetlands

From the US EPA:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized an administrative order with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) over federal Clean Water Act violations. Under the terms of the order, LADWP will purchase $5.3 million in mitigation credits for damaging wetlands on its Granada Hills property. LADWP will also pay a $94,000 penalty.

EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, conducted an inspection in 2016 and found extensive vegetation clearing and soil displacement on the property, located in the San Fernando Detention Basin. Inspectors concluded that between 2013 and 2016, almost eight acres of open water and adjacent wetlands in the basin had been graded, filled and channelized without a proper permit.

“Wetlands have a unique ecological niche in the arid West and must be protected,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Healthy wetlands help filter stormwater, create sustainable habitats and buffer communities from flooding.”

LADWP will purchase $5.3 million in mitigation credits at the Peterson Ranch Mitigation Bank. Mitigation banking is used to preserve, enhance, restore or create a wetland to compensate for adverse impacts to similar nearby ecosystems.

Under the Clean Water Act, companies must obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before discharging pollutants including dredge and fill materials into waters of the United States, which include wetlands.

The proposed penalty is subject to a 30-day public comment period and can be found at: www.epa.gov/publicnotices/los-angeles-department-water-and-power-van-norman-complex-granada-hills-california

For more information on the importance of wetlands, please visit: www.epa.gov/wetlands/wetlands-factsheet-series

 

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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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