NEWS WORTH NOTING: Delta Conveyance DCA names new Executive Director; State Water Board updates cannabis cultivation policy; Yuba Water Agency continues emphasis on healthy forests with $235,000 grant

Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority names new Executive Director

The board of directors of the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority (DCA) today named Kathryn Mallon as its new executive director.

The DCA board authorized a contract with Management Partners to bring in Mallon, who has a  history of successfully completing mega-projects. Ms. Mallon succeeds Jill Duerig, who has served as the DCA’s interim executive director since its formation in May 2018. Ms. Mallon is a registered civil engineer in California with 30 years of planning, design and construction experience. For the past decade, she has focused nearly exclusively on programmatic management of major capital programs in both the public and private sectors.

Between 2014 and 2018, Ms. Mallon managed all aspects of the planning, design and construction of Bloomberg LP’s new state-of-the-art European Headquarters in central London. As part of the project, she directed more than 140 construction and 40 professional service contracts. The building is considered one of the most complex facilities ever designed and built in Europe. From the time Ms. Mallon was appointed to oversee the program, it was delivered on schedule and under budget.

Ms. Mallon also has experience in major water infrastructure projects. She managed a staff of 500 engineers, scientists and other professionals as part of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s 10-year, $14 billion water and wastewater capital construction program, which included major tunnels, treatment works, pump stations, pipelines and bridges.

In addition to being a professional engineer, Ms. Mallon has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of North Carolina.

The DCA is a Joint Powers Authority; its member agencies are Public Water Agencies. Under the direction of the California Department of Water Resources, the DCA’s sole purpose is to design and construct the California WaterFix. Upon completion of the project, the DCA will be dissolved.

State Water Board Updates Cannabis Cultivation Policy to Protect Waterways as Industry Undergoes Rapid Expansion

From the State Water Resources Control Board:

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) fine-tuned its pioneering cannabis cultivation policy Tuesday to clarify implementation issues while ensuring growers continue to be environmentally responsible in an industry that has rapidly expanded with urban and rural grow sites throughout much of California.

The updates, focusing on four key issues – onstream reservoirs, tribal buffers, requirements for indoor cultivation sites, and winterization requirements — were incorporated into the policy to increase and simplify compliance. The policy revisions were finalized after months of feedback from stakeholders.

“The updates improve the rules that commercial cannabis growers must follow, while adhering to sound environment protection practices intended to keep waterways and lands from being contaminated, and water resources protected when there is more demand than supply,” said Eileen Sobeck, executive director at the State Water Boards.

The initial policy was approved in October of 2017 in response to Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, establishing the medical cannabis industry, and Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older.

During the public comment period for the updated policy, individual and grower coalitions pointed out that certain requirements in the initial policy, especially those dealing with how grow sites were maintained or prepared during the largely dormant winter months, did not reflect the new realities of an industry that has pushed well beyond its origins along the rugged and rainy North Coast into more established farmlands of the Central Valley and Central Coast.

With the changes in place after a vote of the State Water Board at today’s meeting, the main tenets of the Cannabis Cultivation Policy remain unchanged – to protect water flows and water quality in the state’s rivers and streams. To achieve that, the policy uses a two-pronged approach – statewide requirements detailed in a water quality permit known as the Cannabis General Order, and cannabis-related water rights referred to as Cannabis Small Irrigation Use Registrations (SIUR).

Since voters approved Prop. 64 in November of 2016, the State Water Board anticipated the rapid growth of the recreational cannabis market and made good on its commitment to protect California’s waters from cannabis-related discharges, establish safeguards for riparian areas and wetlands, and protect stream flows.

Here is a summary of the four key updates:

  • Onstream reservoirs: This update provides a path for cultivators with pre-existing onstream reservoirs to obtain a Cannabis SIUR water right if the reservoir meets specific conditions – it existed prior to Oct. 1, 2016, and it is determined that the removal of the reservoir and installation of off-stream storage would cause more environmental harm than continuing the use of the existing reservoir.
  • Tribal buffers: Provides certain options for Native American tribes to implement cannabis cultivation activities within 600 feet of tribal lands and a 45-day period for tribes to accept, reject, or remain silent regarding a cannabis cultivation request.
  • Winterization requirements: Addresses the shift of cannabis cultivation sites from remote locations in rugged terrain that pose a high threat of stormwater runoff towards flatter areas that don’t pose as serious of a runoff threat. The update allows for the Executive Officer or other designee from a Regional Water Board to authorize the use of heavy equipment for routine cannabis cultivation preparation and planting through approval of a site management plan.
  • Indoor cultivation site exemptions: For indoor cultivation sites that have a building permit and certificate of occupancy for cannabis cultivation, and that discharge waste to a permitted wastewater collection system, cultivators are exempt from the riparian setback and tribal buffer requirements.

Since 2013, the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement has worked with the North Coast and Central Valley Regional Water Boards, along with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, to address the potentially harmful environmental impacts of cannabis cultivation. With the revised and updated Cannabis Policy, the State Water Board will continue its enforcement efforts while engaging with new cultivators to understand the regulations and help them navigate the permitting process and become compliant.

To read more about the Water Boards rules for commercial cannabis cultivation in California, visit the cannabis cultivation website and follow us on Facebook (Water Boards Cultivation Programs) and Twitter @CAWaterBoards

Yuba Water Agency continues emphasis on healthy forests with $235,000 grant for watershed coordinator position

From the Yuba Water Agency:

More forest management efforts could be in the works for the Yuba River Watershed with the help of a grant approved today by Yuba Water Agency.

The $235,000 grant will provide matching funds to double the impact of a collaboration between the South Yuba River Citizens League and Camptonville Community Partnership. The groups are jointly applying for a grant from the California Department of Conservation, so they can fund a full-time watershed coordinator position.

The watershed coordinator will work with public and private landowners to plan and coordinate projects within the watershed, including a biomass facility in Camptonville and a forest health project in the north Yuba watershed. Yuba Water Agency’s grant will provide enough funding to hire an additional watershed coordinator for an estimated four years.

“The impacts of a wildfire in the Yuba Watershed would be severe,” said Yuba Water Agency Chairman Brent Hastey. “We really are serious about being the first sustainably managed watershed in California, and this is a big step in that direction.”

The watershed coordinator position will provide governance and coordination to improve watershed-scale planning efforts. Yuba Water Agency can contribute grant funds for this because of the direct impact that wildfire has on water supply and quality, one of the agency’s primary missions.

“It’s exciting to think about the added capacity that Yuba Water Agency’s matching contribution would bring to the Yuba watershed and our ability to manage forest health for the benefit of the entire region,” said Melinda Booth, executive director for SYRCL. “With this upfront investment, our projects will be more collaborative and move forward efficiently and therefore have a greater impact and reach.”

Yuba Water Agency’s grant is contingent on the grant from the DOC, which is expected to report the status of the funding by early summer.

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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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