NEWS WORTH NOTING: BAWSCA joins lawsuit against Bay Delta Plan; Newsom signs emergency drinking water & fire recovery package; New report shows businesses can contribute to community and watershed resilience through sustainable landscapes; LAO: Improving CA’s forest and watershed management

Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency joins other water agencies in legal action to halt the State Water Board’s Bay Delta updated plan

BAWSCA filed to intervene in legal action today in Tuolumne County Superior Court “to protect the water interests” of its 26-member water agencies in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties against actions adopted in December 2018 by the State Water Board.

BAWSCA joins the City and County of San Francisco, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and other water suppliers with a long list of complaints related to the State Water Board’s recently adopted Plan for the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Estuary.  The Plan includes the Tuolumne River, which is the source of 85 percent of the water for the San Francisco Regional (Hetch Hetchy) Water System (System), which in turn provides two-thirds of the water used by BAWSCA’s agencies.

If implemented, this Plan would significantly reduce the water supply available to the 1.8 million residents, more than 40,000 businesses, including Silicon Valley, and community organizations in the three counties that rely on water from the Hetch Hetchy System. BAWSCA has consistently communicated its concerns and provided documentation to the State Water Board about the significant impacts on residents, businesses and community agencies, if this Plan is adopted.

BAWSCA filed to intervene in legal action today in Tuolumne County Superior Court “to protect the water interests” of its 26-member water agencies in Alameda, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties against actions adopted in December 2018 by the State Water Board.

BAWSCA joins the City and County of San Francisco, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and other water suppliers with a long list of complaints related to the State Water Board’s recently adopted Plan for the San Francisco Bay-Sacramento San Joaquin Delta Estuary. The Plan includes the Tuolumne River, which is the source of 85 percent of the water for the San Francisco Regional (Hetch Hetchy) Water System (System), which in turn provides two-thirds of the water used by BAWSCA’s agencies.

If implemented, this Plan would significantly reduce the water supply available to the 1.8 million residents, more than 40,000 businesses, including Silicon Valley, and community organizations in the three counties that rely on water from the Hetch Hetchy System. BAWSCA has consistently communicated its concerns and provided documentation to the State Water Board about the significant impacts on residents, businesses and community agencies, if this Plan is adopted.

BAWSCA respects the State Water Board and its Board members and supports the objectives of the Plan. However, BAWSCA cannot support the Plan as adopted. As part of its action last December, the State Water Board expressed its support for ongoing negotiated, voluntary-settlement discussions and indicated its willingness to consider an alternative. However, the success of those negotiations remains unclear at this time. Therefore, BAWSCA must take necessary legal action while it can to protect the interests of the water customers.

Governor Gavin Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown urged the State Water Board a few months ago to pursue a negotiated voluntary settlement for this challenge of more water at critical times for fish and the environment while protecting the needs of all water users. They were joined in this effort by State Senator Jerry Hill (San Mateo) and Assembly Members Kevin Mullin (San Mateo), and Bill Quirk (Alameda), whose constituents are water customers in the three counties and whose interests BAWSCA represents under California law (AB 2058).

BAWSCA, which the State Legislature authorized to be a water-supply provider, has strongly supported the negotiation of a voluntary settlement agreement. It continues to believe that such an agreement is the best and most durable path forward to provide the desired environmental benefits for fish and other wildlife, while ensuring a reliable water supply that is essential for residents, businesses and community organizations.

We will vigorously fight for a reliable high-quality water supply at a fair price that is needed to support more jobs, increased low-cost housing, successful businesses, and public organizations supplying vitalhuman services in the three counties.

BAWSCA recognizes the need for a healthy Bay Delta environment and will continue to support efforts to negotiate a voluntary settlement agreement as the preferred alternative to achieve its objectives and to provide critically necessary water for all the water users it represents.

Governor Newsom Signs Emergency Drinking Water & Fire Recovery Package in Central Valley

First bills Governor Newsom signs into law allocate $131.3 million to fund emergency drinking water & fire recovery in California and establish $20 million in emergency funding for safe drinking water and community technical assistance

Governor Gavin Newsom today signed his first bills as Governor, focusing on drinking water and fire recovery. Alongside students, teachers and community leaders, the Governor signed Assembly Bills 72 and 73 at Riverview Elementary School in Parlier — a school where kids have been without safe drinking water for almost a year.

Governor Newsom heard from parents who are forced to drop water bottles off at the principal’s office when their kids forget them at home, and he listened to teachers who worried whether their students were unknowingly using unsafe water from their home faucets.

“This legislation provides emergency funding as a down payment — but it’s only the first step to addressing the clean drinking water crisis in our state,” said Governor Newsom. “The fact that more than a million Californians can’t rely on clean water to drink or bathe in is a moral disgrace. Our state must forge a long-term solution to this crisis, and I’m looking forward to working with the Legislature in the coming months to do just that.”

AB 72 and AB 73 are early action budget bills that provide urgent assistance for communities that have contaminated and unsafe water and also support communities that have been rocked by California wildfires. Hundreds of water systems across the state are contaminated by lead, arsenic, or uranium.

AB 72 appropriates $10 million General Fund to continue funding for emergency drinking water projects and adds $10 million General Fund to local water districts for technical assistance related to compliance with current drinking water standards.

The legislation also clarifies that funding in last year’s budget for drinking water in schools can be given as grants to public agencies, public water systems, or non-profit organizations to help with water management, and re-appropriates the balance of 2016 drinking water funds for schools. ​

Tomorrow, Governor Newsom will travel to Butte County to meet with Paradise residents and survivors of the Camp Fire, and highlight emergency funding in the bills for fire recovery and emergency preparedness.

New Report Shows Businesses Can Contribute to Community and Watershed Resilience Through Sustainable Landscapes

In recent weeks, rains have deluged California, flooding low-lying areas and polluting nearby waterways. But just over two years ago, the state was gripped by the worst drought on record. With climate change, these water extremes are becoming more common and intense. A new study from the Pacific Institute, in collaboration with California Forward, the CEO Water Mandate, and the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, finds there are significant opportunities for the business community in the Santa Ana River Watershed to improve local climate resilience by investing in sustainable landscape practices. Although focused on the Santa Ana River Watershed, the study’s findings are applicable to urbanized communities everywhere.

“In California, climate change is producing rapid shifts from very wet to very dry conditions,” says report author Heather Cooley, Director of Research at the Pacific Institute. “Our communities, marked by vast expanses of thirsty lawns and impermeable pavement, are ill-equipped to handle these pressures. The business community can help improve watershed health and local climate resilience by adopting sustainable landscape practices. This is a highly visual way for businesses to showcase their commitment to sustainability and can promote similar actions by others.”

“Business and civic leaders are ready to take action to make our communities and watersheds more sustainable and resilient. This report illuminates the path forward for multi-benefit landscape investments to support these goals,” according to Jim Mayer, CEO of California Forward.

Most efforts to advance sustainable landscapes thus far have focused on residential parcels, yet commercial and industrial properties are disproportionately landscaped with lawns and have large impervious surfaces. Sustainable Landscapes on Commercial and Industrial Properties in the Santa Ana River Watershed finds that properly managed landscaping projects on these properties could improve water quality, flood management, and water reliability. These projects could also reduce energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon, improve ecosystem and human health, promote economic activity, and enhance community resilience.

The study includes an interactive mapping tool that allows users to explore the potential benefits of sustainable landscaping practices in areas across the Santa Ana River Watershed.

Read the Executive Summary here.

Read the full report here.

The Pacific Institute is a global water think tank that creates and advances solutions to some of the world’s most pressing water challenges through interdisciplinary research and by partnering with a variety of stakeholders. Founded in 1987 and based in Oakland, California, the Pacific Institute envisions a world in which society, the economy, and the environment have the water they need to thrive now and in the future.

LAO: Improving California’s Forest and Watershed Management

From the Legislative Analyst’s Office:

The Legislative Analyst’s Office has prepared a hearing handout, Improving California’s Forest and Watershed Management, for the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 3 on Resources and Transportation and Assembly Committee on Natural Resources.  The handout provides an overview of California’s forestlands; a discussion of the implications of unhealthy forest conditions; and recommendations for improving forest and watershed management.

Click here for the hearing handout.

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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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