NEWS WORTH NOTING: Valley wins big in House water resources measure; DWR commits to greater greenhouse gas emission reductions; Collaboration-themed SJRRP Science Meeting delivers prestigious Keys Award; Metropolitan boosts recreation at Diamond Valley Lake
Valley Wins Big in House Water Resources Measure
From the Office of Congressman Jim Costa:
The San Joaquin Valley could see significant increases in water storage capacity due to water resources legislation that passed today in the U.S. House of Representatives with bipartisan and bicameral support.
Thanks to the leadership of Valley Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16) and Jeff Denham (CA-10), America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) includes provisions that will support local irrigation districts and water agencies in their efforts to raise spillway gates, build new water storage facilities, and repair and expand dams, reservoirs, and other water projects.
Specifically, AWIA includes legislation introduced by Rep. Costa and co-led by Denham that will enable Merced Irrigation District to take the first steps forward with a project to raise the spillway gates at New Exchequer Dam. This would enlarge the storage capacity of Lake McClure, increasing water supplies for eastern Merced County up to 57,000 acre-feet.
The bill also extends funding for a program that is being used to restore the seismic stability and eventual expansion of the San Luis Reservoir, and it creates a pilot program in the Russian River Basin to develop a system for incorporating weather forecast into reservoir operations.
“This legislation creates a pathway for the first new surface water storage in the Valley in decades,” Costa said. “This is a victory for Merced County and the people of the Valley.”
Additionally, AWIA includes another provision led by Congressmen Denham and Costa that expands financing options for water storage projects and incentivizes investment in new water storage.
DWR Commits to Greater Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions
From the Department of Water Resources:
With the Global Climate Action Summit underway in San Francisco, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced its commitment to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 60 percent or more below 1990 levels. In less than 30 years, DWR has already reduced annual GHG emissions by more than one million metric tons, the equivalent of taking 200,000 cars off the road.
As a major energy consumer and producer, DWR plays an important role in California’s strategy to reduce GHG emissions. DWR owns and manages California’s State Water Project (SWP), the largest state-owned water conveyance and power generation system in the United States, serving more than 27 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland. The SWP produces approximately 14 percent of the state’s GHG-free hydroelectricity, and self-generates, on average, about 60 percent of its own energy needs. DWR’s just-released “Clean Energy for California” publication offers more information about how DWR is integrating renewable energy into its operations.
Speaking during today’s Global Climate Action Summit, DWR Director Karla Nemeth highlighted the department’s commitment to taking strong action on climate change. During opening remarks at the Water Pavilion, an affiliated summit event, Nemeth emphasized the role that science plays in water management.
“I want the department to be a leader in bringing science to the table,” Nemeth said. “When people think of coming to work at DWR, they can think of the importance of applying scientific disciplines to the infrastructure world that dominates water supply and flood management.”
Further underscoring the role of science in water management, the department today released the second phase of its Climate Action Plan, which provides a framework for incorporating climate change analysis into DWR planning and program activities. In recent months, DWR scientists have been at the forefront of climate change studies that seek to both lessen and adapt to climate change impacts. In the Fourth Climate Change Assessment, released in August by the California Natural Resources Agency, DWR analyzed how new weather extremes will affect future water supplies.
Collaboration-themed SJRRP Science Meeting delivers prestigious Keys Award
Relationship-building award given for developing cutting-edge water supply forecasting tool
Highlighting successful collaboration to improve water supply management, two John W. Keys, III awards were presented at the 3rd biennial San Joaquin River Restoration Program Science Meeting held in Sacramento, August 22 and 23.
Keeping with the meeting theme “Collaborating for the Future,” the Keys Award recipients were recognized for their joint efforts at implementing new, 21st century runoff forecasting tools for the San Joaquin watershed. Following in the wake of a 5-year drought, a collective effort unfolded to improve water management opportunities within the San Joaquin watershed using NASA’s Airborne Snow Observatory which applies cutting-edge Light Detection and Ranging (or LiDAR) and hyperspectral imagery to accurately measure the snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. Drawing on this technology, a diverse range of stakeholders, including environmental organizations, water users and governmental agencies, rallied behind a common vision to increase user benefits in an already stretched watershed. This week, the 3rd annual NASA Airborne Snow Observatory Workshop is being held in Mammoth Lakes, California, to further advance the collaborative effort and forge new partnerships.
“Collaboration is a linchpin of the San Joaquin River Restoration Program. It was fitting that we recognize individuals who exemplify that characteristic,” said Donald E. Portz, program manager for the restoration program.
This award honors the memory of former Reclamation Commissioner John W. Keys, III. Keys was well-respected for his 36 years of federal service that focused on finding solutions to the complex issues involving managing water resources. The recipients of this award are an excellent example of employees, governmental and non-governmental customers that exemplified outstanding business practices, communication, collaboration, and partnering achievements that contribute to building and strengthening relationships.
The award winners are: Bureau of Reclamation: Chad Moore; Rufino Gonzalez; Emily Thomas; Jerry Herman; National Aeronautics and Space Administration – Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Tom Painter; Judy Lai-Norling; U.S. Department of Agriculture — Agricultural Research Service: Danny Marks; Scott Havens; California Department of Water Resources: David Rizzardo; Friant Water Authority: Jeff Payne; South Valley Water Association: Dan Vink; Sierra Nevada Conservancy: Liz Van Wagtendonk; The Bay Institute: Peter Vorster.
Other individuals closely involved with ASO activities include: Bureau of Reclamation: Kaitlyn Willems; Craig Mayfield; Christian Buenrostro; Gil Reyes; Friant Water Authority: Steve Ottemoeller; Alexandra Biering; NASA – Jet Propulsion Laboratory: Kat Bormann; Michael Joyce; Lorraine Sposto; Cristina De Cesare; Dan Berisford; Elizabeth Carey; Hannah Haugen; U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service: Mark Robertson; Andrew Hendrick; Ernesto Trujillo; Micah Sandusky; Micah Johnson; California Department of Water Resources: Frank Gehrke; Mike Anderson.
More information about the San Joaquin River Restoration Program is available at www.restoresjr.net.
Metropolitan boosts recreation at Diamond Valley Lake
Improvements represent commitment to local community
From the Metropolitan Water District:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is making improvements to enhance recreation at Diamond Valley Lake, recently named 2018’s number two destination in the West for bass fishing by Bassmaster Magazine.
The lake near Hemet in southwest Riverside County is Southern California’s largest drinking water reservoir. To outdoor enthusiasts, it is known for its great fishing, extensive hiking and biking trails and spectacular wildflower blooms. Recent improvements now offer visitors new, permanent marina restrooms and may soon include longer hours for approved activities in early mornings and evenings.
“These improvements represent creative, cost-efficient ways to build on recreational uses of our stunning Diamond Valley Lake,” said Metropolitan board Chairman Randy Record. “We have invested millions of dollars into turning this resource into a world-class fishing destination. We look forward to more conversations with our partners about how we can work together to continue making improvements to the area for the benefit of local residents and visitors alike, while protecting our water and natural resources.”
Expanded marina hours have been made possible by recent upgrades to the facility’s main access road to protect local wildlife, most active at night. Metropolitan installed 10 steel plates over concrete culverts on either side of the road to ensure animals can safely cross, and added rumble strips and signs to slow traffic. The road improvements mean the marina’s concessionaire could keep the marina open during pre-dawn and late-night hours. The marina currently operates from sunrise to sunset, except for special events. Metropolitan also is currently seeking a long-term concessionaire through a request for proposals process.
In addition, Metropolitan is exploring the possibility of connecting the trails between Diamond Valley Lake and nearby Lake Skinner. Body contact activities remain prohibited at the reservoir to ensure the safety of the region’s drinking water.
The improvements align with a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding Metropolitan signed last year with Eastern Municipal Water District, city of Hemet, Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District and Riverside County to explore long-term potential development of recreational facilities surrounding the lake. The MOU outlines responsibilities of each agency regarding improvements, much of which will depend on outside funding sources, including private investors and grant funding.
“While our primary mission is to deliver a high-quality, reliable water supply to millions of Southern California residents, we value the opportunity to work with our communities, including those surrounding our facilities, to enhance recreational opportunities and protect our natural resources,” Metropolitan General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger said.
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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.