NEWS WORTH NOTING: Enviro docs for B.F. Sisk Dam seismic upgrade; Governor’s report on CA wildfires, climate change, and energy future; Eastern Sierra snowpack well above average for 2019

Reclamation and DWR release environmental document for B.F. Sisk Dam seismic upgrade

The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources prepared a joint Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) for B.F. Sisk Safety of Dams Modification Project to reduce seismic risks at B.F. Sisk Dam in Merced County. The Draft EIS/EIR is available for a 45-day public review period.

“B.F. Sisk is a key component to both the Central Valley Project and the State Water Project,” said Ernest Conant, Reclamation’s Mid-Pacific Regional Director. “We are pleased to release this joint document for review and comment.”

Initiated as part of Reclamation’s Safety of Dams program, the Draft EIS/EIR evaluates the potential direct and indirect environmental impacts of alternatives that would prevent destabilization of the dam embankment, reduce safety concern, and maintain water supply deliveries to state and federal water contractors during a seismic event.

The 382-foot tall B.F. Sisk Dam retains San Luis Reservoir, which is the nation’s largest off-stream reservoir and serves California’s State Water Project and the federal Central Valley Project.

Public meetings to receive comments on topics addressed in the Draft EIS/EIR have been scheduled for:

  • May 7, 2019, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Federal Building, Cafeteria Conference Rooms, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825
  • May 8, 2019, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Miller and Lux Building, 830 6th Street, Los Banos, CA 93635

The Notice of Availability (NOA) and Draft EIS/EIR may be viewed at Reclamation’s website at https://www.usbr.gov/mp/nepa/nepa_project_details.php?Project_ID=34281; DWR’s website at https://water.ca.gov/News/Public-Notices/New-Public-Notice-Folder/BF-Sisk-Dam-EIS-and-EIR; at 1416 Ninth Street, Room 604-8, Sacramento, CA 95814; Los Banos Public Library at 1312 Seventh St., Los Banos, CA 93635; or by emailing rochelle.amrhein@water.ca.gov.

Written comments on the environmental document must be received by close of business May 28, 2019. Send comments to Jamie LeFevre, Reclamation, 2800 Cottage Way MP-152, Sacramento, CA 95825 or jlefevre@usbr.gov, or to Shelly Amrhein, DWR, P.O. Box 942836, Sacramento, CA 94236-0001, or via email to rochelle.amrhein@water.ca.gov, or faxed to 916-653-2960. For additional information or a CD document copy, contact Shelly Amrhein at 916-653-6973.

Governor Newsom Releases Report on California’s Catastrophic Wildfires, Climate Change and our Energy Future

From the Office of the Governor:

Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the findings of his strike force charged with examining California’s catastrophic wildfires, climate change and our energy future.

The strike force report sets out steps the state must take to reduce the incidence and severity of wildfires, including the significant wildfire mitigation and resiliency efforts the Governor has already proposed. It renews the state’s commitment to clean energy. It outlines actions to hold the state’s utilities accountable, as well as recommended changes to stabilize California’s utilities to meet the energy needs of customers and the economy.

“Under the status quo, all parties lose – wildfire survivors, energy consumers and Californians committed to addressing climate change. The imperative now is on action. The strike force will continue its work going forward to advance the ideas generated in the report,” said Governor Newsom.

In his State of the State address, the Governor called for the creation of a strike force to develop a comprehensive strategy, within 60 days, to address the destabilizing effect of catastrophic wildfires on the state’s electric utilities. He charged the strike force with developing a comprehensive strategy to ensure California’s “continued access to safe affordable power” and to “seek justice for fire victims, fairness for employees and protection for consumers.”

The report, “Wildfires and Climate Change: California’s Energy Future,” can be read here.

The report comes at a time when wildfires are not only more frequent, but far more devastating. Fifteen of the 20 most destructive wildfires in the state’s history have occurred since 2000; ten of the most destructive fires have occurred since 2015.

Beginning on his first full day in office, Governor Newsom has taken decisive action to strengthen California’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities to mitigate wildfires and build community resilience.

Eastern Sierra Snowpack Measured at Well above Average for 2019

Record Rains To The State and Heavy Snow In The Mountains Helped Boost The Eastern Sierra Snowpack.

From the LA DWP:

On April 5, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) hydropgraphers performed the final snowpack survey for the season, which helps determine the amount of water available for Los Angeles’ water supply. This year, the snowpack measured at 171 percent of normal, which translates to a well above average year. In comparison, the snowpack registered at 66 percent of normal in 2018, a dry year, and 203 percent in 2017, the second wettest year on record. Snowpack measurements help determine how much water supply LADWP can expect from the LA Aqueduct and how much it will need to purchase from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

Based on this year’s final snowpack survey, approximately 114 billion gallons of water will be used in the Mono Basin and Inyo County to meet environmental commitments and operational needs. The LA Aqueduct system will flow at or near full capacity for much of the year. This means in the following 12 month period, the LA Aqueduct is expected to provide approximately 119 billion gallons of water, which will meet an estimated 70 percent of LA’s overall water demand supplying more than 1 million single family homes. To put things into perspective, in an average year, the LA Aqueduct provides about half of LA’s total water supply.

“This year’s much needed rain and snow is encouraging for our short-term water supply. However, we know that droughts have become increasingly frequent and more severe and the next one is likely right around the corner,” said LADWP General Manager David H. Wright. “Our customers have been doing a great job of conserving water, and we encourage them to continue to ‘save the drop’ by using water efficiently even during wet years.”

“As we confront extreme weather patterns and the resulting change in water supply, maintaining reliable, sustainable and resilient sources of water, including locally, will help the City meet future demands,” said Richard Harasick, LADWP Senior Assistant General Manager of Water System. “We’re looking at all opportunities to further develop local water supply including investing in stormwater capture by expanding and enhancing groundwater replenishment at the existing Tujunga Spreading Grounds stormwater capture basins.”

A recent announcement by Mayor Eric Garcetti that LA will recycle 100 percent of its wastewater by 2035 means LADWP will also be able to reliably source up to 70 percent of its water sustainably and locally instead of depending significantly on imported water.

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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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