NEWS WORTH NOTING: CDFW approves Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan; Placer County Water Agency acts to protect integrity of PG&E water supply

CDFW Approves Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has approved the Yolo Habitat Conservation Plan and Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP). CDFW’s NCCP program takes a broad-based ecosystem approach to planning for the protection and perpetuation of biological diversity. It is the state-level complement to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s HCP program. The issuance of an NCCP permit ensures regional protection of plants, animals and their habitats, while allowing compatible and appropriate economic activity.

The Yolo HCP/NCCP is the 16th NCCP permit issued by CDFW since the original NCCP Act was created in 1991, and is the third NCCP approved in northern California. Altogether, the 16 permitted NCCPs will permanently conserve over one million acres in California. The Yolo HCP/NCCP alone will conserve more than 32,000 acres of habitat for 12 covered species, including Swainson’s hawk (state threatened), giant garter snake (state and federally threatened) and the tricolored blackbird (which the Fish and Game Commission recently voted to list as state threatened).

The Yolo HCP/NCCP is also the first NCCP to focus on conserving working landscapes (primarily agriculture) to meet species conservation needs. The approved HCP/NCCP will allow for streamlined species permitting at the local level by Yolo County, City of Davis, City of West Sacramento, City of Winters and City of Woodland for infrastructure and development activities that are consistent with the plan.

The final Yolo HCP/NCCP is posted online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/planning/nccp/plans/yolo.

Placer County Water Agency acts to protect integrity of PG&E water supply

From the Placer County Water Agency:

In the wake of Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) recent bankruptcy filing, the Placer County Water Agency (PCWA) is warning of potential threats to the water supply and reliability of nearly 200,000 Placer County residents should PG&E liquidate its Drum Spaulding Project.

PG&E’s Drum Spaulding Project is a complex array of gold rush mining canals, reservoirs, and hydroelectric facilities that has been in operation since the late 1800’s; it has been described as the most complex water system in the United States. PCWA and the Nevada Irrigation District (NID) assumed most of PG&E’s retail water service responsibilities from the Drum Spaulding Project in the mid 1900’s, but the project still supplies 175,000 acre-feet of water annually – water that is used to fire-proof urban landscapes, support local agriculture, and supply clean and reliable drinking water for Placer County residents.

“Although there is no way to know at this early stage how PG&E’s bankruptcy will unfold, it is vitally important to remember that numerous Sierra Nevada foothill communities still rely on PG&E as a water utility,” said PCWA General Manager Einar Maisch. “If recent news reports are true, that the California Legislature and the Public Utilities Commission are considering the divestiture of PG&E assets to fund its liabilities, it could have disastrous consequences.”

PCWA Board Chairman Mike Lee stated, “The water supply from the Drum Spaulding Project has always served the needs of the local residents, even before the system was purchased by PG&E over a century ago. While we hope that PG&E can continue to own and operate the system as it moves through Chapter 11 proceedings, it is prudent for PCWA and NID to plan for a future of local ownership of the Drum Spaulding.”

Planning for such a contingency, the PCWA Board of Directors has executed an agreement with the NID to study the long-term feasibility and cost of jointly acquiring PG&E’s Drum Spaulding Project.

“While nothing in the agreement with NID requires acquisition, we must be prepared to act should the necessity arise,” said District 2 Director Primo Santini. “Management of this critical infrastructure must remain local, with those who understand and appreciate its complexity and possess the expertise to continue operating the project reliably.”

District 4 Director Robert Dugan added, “As a Board, we have to do everything we can to protect our water supply and reliability for customers.”

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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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