NEWS WORTH NOTING: DWR, State Water Contractors respond to FEMA Reimbursement for Oroville Spillways Work; Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

DWR, State Water Contractors respond to FEMA Reimbursement for Oroville Spillways Work

From the Department of Water Resources:

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today received notification that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved $205 million in federal funds to reimburse the state for spillway reconstruction costs related to the 2017 Oroville Dam spillways incident. These funds are in addition to $128.4 million FEMA previously approved for reimbursement for emergency response, debris removal, and other costs.

The latest reimbursement is based on cost estimates provided by DWR last summer. DWR will provide updated cost estimates in the coming weeks and anticipates additional reimbursements will be approved.

FEMA also notified DWR that it does not consider some spillway reconstruction to be eligible for reimbursement based on information submitted by DWR to date. DWR will work with FEMA to provide further information to support the department’s assertion that all reconstruction work should be eligible for reimbursement.

“We appreciate the hard work and commitment of FEMA staff, however are disappointed in some of their initial interpretations regarding cost eligibility,” said Joel Ledesma, DWR Deputy Director of the State Water Project. “Our reconstruction work was necessary to safely operate the main spillway and ensure functionality of the emergency spillway. DWR plans to appeal FEMA’s determination as we believe all costs should be eligible for federal reimbursement.”

FEMA’s Public Assistance program reimburses applicants at least 75 percent of eligible costs associated with a federally declared disaster.

The reimbursement determination from FEMA is based on its eligibility categories and policies. It is not a statement on the quality of the reconstruction work or whether the work was necessary.

From the State Water Contractors:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced today, based on information already submitted by Department of Water Resources (DWR), that it will not fully reimburse the State of California for the necessary repairs of the main spillway and emergency spillway at Oroville Dam, following the February 2017 disaster.

FEMA is authorized to reimburse 75% of the cost of damage caused by such disasters. In this instance, FEMA has not authorized the full 75% of the costs to repair the damaged spillways.

“We support DWR and recognize the agency has worked tirelessly to protect public safety and to successfully repair the Oroville spillways. We understand that DWR worked directly with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and multiple independent experts to determine the appropriate actions necessary to repair the facilities and ensure the structure could operate as originally intended. That is why we support DWR’s decision to appeal the partial FEMA reimbursements. We firmly believe that federally-required repairs to Oroville after a federally-declared emergency should qualify for full federal assistance.”

Jennifer Pierre
General Manager
State Water Contractors

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

From the Department of Fish and Wildlife:

At its March 7 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $8 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 21 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $680,000 acquisition in fee of approximately 32 acres of land as an expansion to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Battle Creek Wildlife Area for the protection of terrestrial and aquatic habitats supporting salmonid species, to enhance habitat linkages and connectivity, and to provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Anderson in Shasta County.
  • A $440,000 grant to CDFW for a cooperative project with California State Parks to improve the parking lot, provide an ADA-accessible viewing platform, and install a new ADA-accessible toilet at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, eight miles north of the Oroville, in Butte County.
  • $1.3 million for two grants to The Trust for Public Land to acquire approximately 1,415 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, preservation of desert springs with year-round surface water and a riparian corridor, and provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Lake Isabella in Kern County.
  • Two grants for a total of $480,000 to the Transition Habitat Conservancy to acquire in fee approximately 120 acres of land from two separate owners for the protection of deer and mountain lion habitat, to maintain a migration corridor for the deer herd, and to provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities in the hills northwest of Portal Ridge, in Los Angeles County.
  • A $757,000 grant to the Natural Communities Coalition for a cooperative project with CDFW, Orange County Parks and California State Parks in Crystal Cove State Park and Laguna Coast Wilderness Park – both in Orange County. The project will construct 16 seasonal pools and restore approximately 15 acres of adjacent upland coastal sage and cactus scrub habitat that will provide breeding and foraging habitat for the western spadefoot toad.

For more information about the WCB please visit https://www.wcb.ca.gov.

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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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