NEWS WORTH NOTING: Governor Brown signs water rights fairness bill (AB 747); Rainwater capture systems at waste and recycling facilities improve Santa Ana River water quality

Governor Brown Signs BBID-Backed Water Rights Fairness Bill

From Byron-Bethany Irrigation District:

Landmark legislation crafted by Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) to restore Constitutional due process and restore fairness for California’s water right holders is now law. Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 747, a bill introduced by Assemblymember Anna Caballero (D-Salinas). AB 747 passed the Legislature by an overwhelming bipartisan majority.

“The Governor’s action cements a significant step toward improving the transparency, objectivity and accountability for California’s water rights administration and enforcement,” said BBID GM Rick Gilmore. “This law will go a long way toward implementing the necessary checks and balances, as well as restoring the water community’s faith in the process.”

AB 747 establishes a fairer process for water right holders who for many years felt they had little choice but to settle enforcement actions brought against them by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB). The SWRCB currently acts as both prosecutor and judge in enforcement actions initiated by the Board. This bill creates an Administrative Hearings Office within the SWRCB. Expert attorneys will serve as hearing officers to hear and adjudicate complex, critically important water rights matters. A similar structure is already in effect for many state agencies.

This legislation is the response to AB 313, which was introduced last session by Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), and ultimately vetoed by Governor Brown. Since then, BBID and other local government districts proactively engaged the Brown Administration to find common ground. AB 747 is the result of that effort.

“On behalf of the BBID Board of Directors, I would like to thank Assemblymember Caballero and her staff for all of their hard work, and recognize Assemblymember Gray’s important contributions at the outset of this effort,” said BBID Board President Russell Kagehiro. “We must also thank Governor Brown and his Administration for their recognition of this critical issue impacting communities statewide, and for their collaboration to reach a solution.”

The new hearing unit will take effect in the coming months.

Byron-Bethany Irrigation District (BBID) is a multi-county special district serving parts of Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Joaquin Counties across 47 square miles and 30,000 acres. The district serves 160 agricultural customers and more than 20,000 residents of the Mountain House community. For additional media information, contact Nick Janes at 630.915.6493, or via email at n.janes@bbid.org.

Rainwater Capture Systems at Waste and Recycling Facilities Improve Santa Ana River Water Quality

Underground water filtration system stops polluted water from flowing into streets and waterways

Waste and recycling collection company CR&R, Inc. and clean-water advocacy group Orange County Coastkeeper announce significant water quality improvements to waterways such as the Santa Ana River, following structural improvements at two solid waste sites in Orange County, California.

Following a 2015 agreement with Coastkeeper, CR&R upgraded its stormwater capture systems at two sites in the city of Stanton to prevent pollution from flowing into local waterways. One facility is a trash recycling center and the second, smaller facility repairs and restores waste and recycling bins.

CR&R re-graded the recycling site and installed drainage systems to capture a majority of the rain water. CR&R built a large underground tank system equipped with oil-water separators that purifies water from industrial facilities — so it can infiltrate into the soil beneath the site and replenish the groundwater table. At the second facility, CR&R moved most of its operations indoors and installed covered outdoor storage areas to prevent pollutants from flowing offsite.

Now, nearly all stormwater is collected onsite and directed to filtration systems instead of reaching nearby waterways. CR&R is also utilizing water-testing protocols beyond current testing requirements. In 2017, the two facilities only reported one instance of releasing stormwater from the site during an unusually large rain event – a significant improvement for local water quality.

“By taking steps to end stormwater pollution in our communities, CR&R is protecting our swimmable waters for generations to come,” said Colin Kelly, senior staff attorney at Coastkeeper. “We’re encouraged by this corporation’s commitment to protecting our shared environment, and we hope more facilities will follow its example.”

In addition to upgrading its facilities and conducting ongoing water monitoring, CR&R contributed $60,000 to the Rose Foundation to fund a variety of environmental restoration projects in Southern California watersheds. It also donated funds to Coastkeeper’s Living Shorelines program, which restores habitats for native Olympia oysters in Upper Newport Bay.

“CR&R is a recognized leader in environmental stewardship and recycling. In fact, our waste and recycling collection vehicles are fueled by clean and renewable natural gas, which we generate from our own reclaimed organic waste,” said John McNamara, CR&R’s vice president of environmental compliance. “This agreement furthers our commitment to be a good neighbor to the communities we operate in by complying with the Clean Water Act.”

Over the past 19 years, Coastkeeper has successfully worked with more than 60 local facilities to prevent industrial runoff and help them come into compliance with clean water laws.

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ABOUT CR&R, Inc.

CR&R, Inc. is a solid waste and recycling leader with state of the art organics diversion and recycling operations throughout California. They have built and operate the largest Anaerobic Digester in the country and are currently producing renewable biomethane fuel that is used as a renewable CNG fuel in their solid waste collection trucks.

ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER

Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org or call 714-850-1965. Inland Empire Waterkeeper is a chapter of Orange County Coastkeeper. For more information, please visit http://www.iewaterkeeper.org/.

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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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