NEWS WORTH NOTING: Harder announces SAVE Water Resources Act to address Central Valley water needs; Report: Multi-Benefit Approach for Water Management; Some pollutants increasing in streams following Camp Fire; Salmon spawning habitat restoration project in Redding underway

Harder Announces SAVE Water Resources Act to Address Central Valley Water Needs

Bill Focuses on “All of the Above” Solutions, Has Garnered Support of Diverse Group of Stakeholders, Broad Bipartisan Backing

From the Office of Congressman Josh Harder:

Representative Josh Harder [yesterday] announced the Securing Access for the Central Valley and Enhancing (SAVE) Water Resources Act. The bill provides a wraparound approach to addressing water issues facing the Central Valley by increasing storage opportunities, spurring innovation, and making long-overdue investments in our aging water infrastructure. Although water politics are often adversarial, Rep. Harder has spent months sourcing water ideas directly from a wide array of local stakeholders and experts to ensure the final bill attends to the needs of a diverse set of interests. The bill has broad bipartisan support from over a dozen local organizations and elected officials.

“We’re stuck in a 20th century mindset on water use that fools us into believing the answer to our water problems is to take it from someone else – pitting us against each other. Southern California against Northern California. Farmer against fisherman, and Democrat against Republican. But after the worst drought in our history, we’re all finally starting to understand that that system doesn’t work,” said Rep. Harder. “We have the most variable rainfall in the country here in California – if we had passed this law 20 years ago like we should have, we wouldn’t be seeing a wet year like this one as a complete missed opportunity to invest in our future water needs and store valuable water for times in need.”

The SAVE Water Resources Act touches on a broad range of water policy areas aimed at increasing water storage opportunities, spurring innovation in water sustainability, and making responsible federal investments in our aging water infrastructure. In brief, the bill:

INCREASES STORAGE

  • Improves water storage by requiring the Bureau of Reclamation to expedite feasibility studies for four specific storage projects in the Central Valley, including: Sites Reservoir, Del Puerto Canyon Reservoir, Los Vaqueros and San Luis Reservoirs and provides $100 million in storage funding.
  • Helps farmers prepare for SGMA by leveraging federal resources to identify prime locations for groundwater storage and recharge in California and across the Western United States.

SPURS INNOVATION

  • Creates the “X-Prize” program to incentivize private sector development of cutting-edge water projects.
  • Invests in water reuse and recycling by increasing funding for WaterSMART programs from $50 million to $500 million and extending the program’s authorization.

INVESTS MILLIONS IN OUR AGING WATER INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Establishes a water infrastructure and drought solutions fund to provide $300 million for water surface and groundwater storage, water reclamation and reuse, and WaterSMART program projects.
  • Creates an innovative financing program which would provide low-interest federal loans to fund local water infrastructure projects.
  • Reauthorizes the Rural Water Supply Act, which requires the Bureau of Reclamation to work with rural communities to improve access to safe and clean sources of drinking water.

A one-page brief on the SAVE Water Resources Act is available here, and a full section-by-section explanation of the legislation is available here.

The bill is supported by elected officials of both parties. The bill is cosponsored by Congressmen John Garamendi, Ami Bera, TJ Cox, and Jim Costa. It also has the support of California State Senators Anna Caballero, Cathleen Gagliani, and Andreas Borgeas; California Assemblymen Heath Flora and Adam Gray; Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa, and Turlock Mayor Amy Bublak.

It is also supported by a diverse set of stakeholders, including: Stanislaus County Farm Bureau, Western Growers Association, Modesto Irrigation District, Turlock Irrigation District, Oakdale Irrigation District, South San Joaquin Irrigation District, Del Puerto Water District, San Luis-Delta-Mendota Water Authority, and Stanislaus County.

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“This water legislation, if it becomes law, will help increase our water supply,” said Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16). “My collective efforts to create long-term water reliability has been based on bipartisan efforts and working together.”

“Over the last four decades, both Republicans and Democrats have controlled Washington DC. Neither party has made meaningful investments in our water infrastructure,” said Assemblyman Adam Gray. “Congressman Harder is trying to move the needle on a difficult issue. I support his effort.”

“We need Congressman Harder to be a leader in Congress for our water rights in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Assemblyman Heath Flora. “The SAVE Water Resources Act is a great step forward for the families and businesses that rely on a reliable clean source of water. Only through a bipartisan approach can we achieve a successful solution to our water needs and provide for much-needed water storage.”

“Agriculture drives the economy of Stanislaus County, and we must ensure that our farmers have access to the water they need to sustain their livelihoods – especially during times of drought,” said Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa. “This should not be a partisan issue, and I appreciate Congressman Harder’s work to secure broad consensus that will allow us to grow and sustain our water supply while also protecting our environment.”

“TID understands that in order to provide safe, reliable and affordable water and power to our customers, new cooperative approaches must be prioritized,” said Casey Hashimoto, General Manager, Turlock Irrigation District. “The SAVE Water Resources Act is a promising example of solution-based legislation that seeks to provide greater resources for California water.”

“The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau would like to recognize Congressman Harder’s efforts in drafting the SAVE Water Resources Act that addresses so many issues currently facing the district and the entire Central Valley,” said Darrell Cordova, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Board President. “His act encompasses the major drivers that affect our members and communities in agriculture: infrastructure, storage, technology, finance, rural water supply, recycling and groundwater management.”

“The SAVE Water Resources Act provides additional financing tools and direct federal funding for needed water infrastructure and storage improvements,” said Federico Barajas, Executive Director, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. “This legislation, if enacted, would help address long term priorities of the Water Authority: reducing subsidence impacts on the Delta-Mendota Canal and increasing our above and below ground storage. It’s long past time for action to improve California’s water system.”

New Report Looks at Multiple Benefits of Water Investment Strategies

From the Pacific Institute:

Researchers at the Pacific Institute, along with Professor Bob Wilkinson of the University of California, Santa Barbara, have launched an initiative to develop, build consensus around, and promote the uptake of a framework to embed the multiple benefits of water projects into decision-making processes.

Many government agencies, businesses, and others acknowledge the value of multi-benefit projects and the need for consistent approaches for investment decision-making. However, there are no standardized methodologies for systematically identifying and evaluating co-benefits of water management. As a result, the broad benefits and costs of water management strategies are not routinely included in decision making, and water managers cannot maximize the benefits of their investments.

“The framework we developed describes a method for considering the broad benefits and trade-offs of water management strategies. This framework could be used by the public sector when deciding which water supplies or water quality interventions to pursue, or by the private sector when deciding which projects to invest in,” says Dr. Sarah Diringer, co-author of the new report Moving Toward a Multi-Benefit Approach for Water Management. “We know it’s often a challenge for decision makers to incorporate benefits that are harder to quantify, and this framework can help with that.”

For more information and to download a copy of the report, click here.

Concentrations of Some Pollutants Increasing in Streams Following Camp Fire

From the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board:

Five months after the Camp Fire ravaged 153,336 acres and became the deadliest wildfire in California history, state water quality officials continue to monitor waterways impacted by the fire. The most recent testing of surface water samples shows a rise in concentrations of some metals and contaminants, prompting the State Water Board to underscore a longstanding caution about consuming such water.

While the public should never drink or cook with untreated water from lakes and streams, it is especially important at this time to not use or drink water from waterways in the Camp Fire burn zone.

The most recent round of samples indicates increased concentrations of some metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Surface waters are those waters that flow on the ground surface and do not include water that comes from wells.

This second round of surface water samples, collected on March 27, was timed to assess pollutant concentrations following a five-day storm event. This is noteworthy because sustained rainstorm activity would have triggered erosion issues – charred and possibly contaminated soil being swept into the waterways.

Preliminary laboratory analyses found concentrations of aluminum, antimony, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and selenium exceeding Primary Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) at most monitoring stations. These concentrations were higher than previous sample results. PAH concentrations also increased compared to previous sample results but did not exceed Primary MCLs. Primary MCLs are drinking water standards that protect public health.

“We are working closely with local, state and federal partners to better understand the impacts to surface water, groundwater, and drinking water resulting from the Camp Fire. It is very likely that we will be expanding the surface water monitoring program to include locations further downstream,” said Clint Snyder, Central Valley Water Board assistant executive officer. “It’s important that the public not drink or cook with untreated surface water.”

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is conducting targeted sampling of surface waters at various locations throughout the Camp Fire burn area and downstream of the burn area in coordination with Butte County, the California Department of Water Resources, and the California Department of Transportation.

PAHs are a class of chemicals that occur naturally in carbon containing substances such as coal, crude oil, and gasoline. PAHs are also produced when wood, garbage and other carbon-based substances are burned.

Additional data are required to determine if the concentrations detected during the January and February sampling are representative of post-fire surface water quality in the burn area. Our agencies will continue to monitor surface waters and will provide updates to the public regarding these monitoring efforts as results become available.

Homeowners with shallow wells along Butte Creek and Little Butte Creek should review their well construction details and consider testing their well water if they have not already done so. Visit www.ButteCountyRecovers.org to download the Private Well Safety and Testing guidance or call the Butte County Environmental Health Division at (530) 552-3880 for more information.

The public should direct any questions regarding the quality of their drinking water supplied by a public water system to their local water purveyor or the State Water Board’s Division of Drinking Water at (530) 224-4800. 

Salmon Spawning Habitat Restoration Project in Redding Underway

From the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors:

In partnership with local, state and federal agencies, the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors (SRSC) are pleased to announce the start of the Market Street Bridge Gravel Injection project in Redding, CA to enhance and restore salmon spawning habitat.

“The Market Street project is another example of the SRSC commitment to preserving and improving the habitats of fish in our region,” said Roger Cornwell, president of the Sacramento River Settlement Contractors. “Tremendous progress has been made on projects that positively impact salmon, but there is more work to be done. Our member districts will continue to step up and be leaders for these innovative projects and we look forward to working with our partners as we take more action to improve passage and habitat for the salmon.”

The project, to be carried out over the next several weeks, will place salmonid spawning gravel in the Sacramento River, immediately below the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District (ACID) Diversion Dam and Market Street Bridge in Redding.

Approximately 9,400 cubic yards of gravel, or 12,000 to 15,000 tons, will be placed into the river to help improve spawning habitat for Chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The project is a continuing effort to help meet requirements of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act to restore and replenish spawning gravel and rearing habitat for salmonid species.

The spawning habitat has been reduced over time in this important river reach, and available spawning habitat will be dramatically increased by adding the new gravel. Work began on April 22 and will conclude on May 6. This gravel project is just one of several innovative interagency projects planned in the Sacramento River this winter and spring to aid the winter-run Chinook salmon.

Reclamation Fisheries Biologist John Hannon, who oversees these projects, said, “The SRSC working together with other entities enables the efficient completion of these and other upcoming projects that none of us could complete alone. These projects are an important part of helping our local fish populations recover to their historical levels.”

The project is a partnership of the Bureau of Reclamation, the California State University – Chico Foundation, California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Sacramento River Forum, and SRSC. The following districts specifically contributed personnel and equipment for the project: Reclamation District 108, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Sutter Mutual Water Company, River Garden Farms, Provident Irrigation District, Princeton-Cordora-Glenn Irrigation District and Anderson-Cottonwood Irrigation District.

In partnership with other agencies and organizations, the SRSC continue to develop, support, and fund local and regional projects that have improved migratory corridors and habitat for fish within the region. The SRSC are part of a unique partnership that have developed and constructed numerous restoration projects along the Sacramento River, including the Painter’s Riffle Restoration Project (GCID), North Cypress Bridge  Side Channel Restoration Project (GCID), Lake California Side Channel Restoration Project (RD-108, PID & PCGID), and Wallace Weir Fish Collection Facility Project (RD-108).

This project is also part of the regional Sacramento Valley Salmon Recovery Program, a comprehensive effort, addressing all Chinook salmon life-cycle stages that occur in fresh water by implementing projects and flows that serve multiple benefits through the collaborative efforts of local water management entities, conservation organizations and state and federal fisheries and water management agencies.

 

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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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