NEWS WORTH NOTING: Garamendi introduces bill to support CA water infrastructure projects; Winnemem Wintu Tribe and W.A.T.E.R. challenge Crystal Geyser EIR in opening brief; Lahontan Water Board accepts Lake Tahoe Nearshore Plan
Garamendi Introduces Bill to Support California Water Infrastructure Projects
From the Office of Congressman John Garamendi:
Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.1764) to support local water infrastructure projects. Congressmen Ken Calvert (R-CA) and Rob Woodall (R-GA) are cosponsors.
Congressman Garamendi’s legislation (H.R.1764) would extend the maximum term for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued under the federal Clean Water Act from 5 to 10 years, to better reflect the construction schedules for public agencies.
“Every American deserves clean water. Our bill upholds Clean Water Act protections and ensures federal permitting requirements accurately reflect the time it takes to construct a public water project,” said Congressman Garamendi. “This bill supports upgrades on aging water treatment plants to ensure projects are built on time and on budget. I will do everything in my power to pass this critical legislation for California and the nation.”
“The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) commends Rep. Garamendi for his leadership in introducing this vital Clean Water Act permitting legislation. The bill brings certainty to ratepayers and long-term efficiency to water suppliers. ACWA is pleased to support this legislation” said Dave Eggerton, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies.
“We thank Congressman Garamendi for introducing this important legislation to modernize the Clean Water Act. H.R.1764 implements a commonsense approach to permitting, and will allow public clean water agencies to focus on the business of protecting public health and the environment through efficient long-term planning. We appreciate that this bill acknowledges the complexity of today’s clean water infrastructure realities, and we look forward to working with the Congressman on this issue going forward,” said Roberta Larson, executive director of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.
Current federal law only provides for 5-year NPDES permits terms, which do not reflect construction schedules for public water and wastewater treatment projects. The American Society of Civil Engineers rates our nation’s wastewater infrastructure at D+ grade, requiring $271 billion in public investment over the next 25 years. According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, 95% of spending on water infrastructure is made at the local level.
Congressman Garamendi’s legislation (H.R.1764) is endorsed by the: National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Association of Counties, United States Conference of Mayors, National Association of Counties, National League of Cities, National Water Resources Association, Association of California Water Agencies, California Association of Sanitation Agencies, WateReuse Association, and Water Environment Federation.
Winnemem Wintu Tribe and W.A.T.E.R. Challenge Crystal Geyser EIR in Opening Brief
In Northern California, the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and the grassroots organization W.A.T.E.R. (We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review) filed an Opening Brief in Superior Court on February 22, continuing a six year community challenge to the flawed EIR for Crystal Geyer Water Company’s bottling plant project at the base of Mount Shasta.
The Crystal Geyser bottling facility project (“Project”) Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was approved by Siskiyou County on December 12, 2017 without any upper limit on the amount of water CG may pump out of the ground and with a faulty and inadequate environmental review of water supply, water quality, traffic, noise, hazards and hazardous materials, air quality, climate change, aesthetics, light and glare, and land use. In doing so the County violated fundamental mandates of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and its own land use plans and ordinances.
The Project’s significant environmental problems all stem from its location on the lower slopes of Mount Shasta, a major water source area for all of California, well known for its incredible beauty and extreme environmental sensitivity and within the historic aboriginal territory of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. The massive bottling facility is adjacent to a quiet, residential neighborhood and upslope from pristine natural springs that are sacred and significant in Winnemem Tribal culture.
The Brief challenges the County’s assertions that it cannot regulate any amounts of Crystal Geyser’s ground water extraction or the operation of the bottling facility. The County maintains that its only discretionary approval within their authority was a permit for a “caretaker’s residence.” The Brief maintains that the Project contains a misleading and unstable Project Description and impermissibly narrow project objectives and details how the EIR’s impacts analysis is totally insufficient.
The County violated AB52, a recently enacted amendment to CEQA, by not completing the required consultation and by not taking the Winnemem Wintu’s cultural and sacred values into account. The County improperly imposed inapplicable standards of proof on the Tribe, and terminated the consultation because the process was delaying the Project’s schedule, which is not a valid basis for termination. We maintain “The provisions added to CEQA are not aspirational.” And that “The County did not consult in good faith…”
By approving the faulty and inadequate EIR and not requiring Crystal Geyser to be accountable, Siskiyou County is set to give away a corporate subsidy worth mega- millions of dollars; exposing neighbors and possibly the City of Mount Shasta to pollution and groundwater depletion; and facilitating the damage and destruction of Tribal Cultural Resources sacred to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe. W.A.T.E.R. and the Tribe are committed to protect the water, our communities and the environment for our many future generations to come.
Lahontan Water Board Accepts Lake Tahoe Nearshore Plan
The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board announced that it has accepted at its Board meeting last night an updated plan to guide ongoing efforts to monitor, protect and improve nearshore conditions of Lake Tahoe.
“We are taking a proactive approach to understanding Lake Tahoe’s complex nearshore environment,” said Pete Pumphrey, Lahontan Water Board Chairman. “The key recommendations in this Plan will turn research findings into actions that improve water quality.”
The nearshore is the part of Lake Tahoe that residents and visitors interact with most. It extends from the shoreline out 350 feet into the lake, or to a depth of 69 feet, whichever is further.
The Lahontan Water Board has been working with agency and academic partners to better understand nearshore processes, track conditions, and evaluate whether management actions should be taken to address specific water quality issues. The Water Board’s efforts are organized around its recently updated Nearshore Water Quality Protection Plan.
Nearshore algal growth is of particular public and agency concern, and the Lahontan Water Board continues to invest in targeted research and monitoring to learn about what drives algae conditions at Lake Tahoe.
The updated plan summarizes research to date and outlines future projects to further evaluate climate impacts, groundwater nutrient sources, and changes in the lake’s biology that influence when and where algae grows. The Lahontan Water Board has also invested in the first lake-wide aquatic plant survey and funded a comprehensive bacteria-monitoring project to ensure Lake Tahoe’s beaches are safe for public use.
The Lahontan Water Board heard a staff presentation on the updated plan at its March meeting in South Lake Tahoe. This plan was last updated in 2014. The Lake Tahoe nearshore program is a bi-state effort between California and Nevada.
The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is a California state agency responsible for the preservation and enhancement of the quality of California’s water resources in eastern California. For more information about the Lahontan Water Board visit its website.
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