NEWS WORTH NOTING: Castaic Dam modernization program begins; Appellate court grants filing of amicus briefs in Abatti v. IID case

Castaic Dam Modernization Program Begins

DWR Conducts Stream Release Structure Investigation

As part of a statewide effort to reduce seismic and hydrologic risk to State Water Project facilities, the California Department of Water Resources’ Castaic Dam Modernization Program begins this week with an assessment of a stream release structure at Castaic Dam in Los Angeles County.

DWR will assess the integrity of a 60-foot-wide rectangular concrete chute used to pass natural flows from Castaic Lake into Castaic Lagoon.

“DWR continues to move forward in the modernization of SWP facilities and will be assessing possible improvements to Castaic Dam to mitigate impacts due to an extreme weather event or earthquake,” said Ted Craddock, DWR Acting State Water Project Deputy Director. “The primary objective for the Castaic Dam Modernization Program is to identify and make improvements that will ensure public safety and a reliable water supply.”

The Castaic Dam Modernization Program also includes seismic retrofits to the inlet tower access bridge, evaluation of the spillway to identify and implement necessary improvements, and earthquake analyses on various dam components.

The planned assessment work will be completed by 2022 and may require drill rigs and other large machinery. After completing the assessments, DWR will develop and implement projects to modernize the structures at Castaic Dam.

The Modernization Program is expected to take approximately 10 years to complete. Localized noise and increased activity at the site are expected during this period. Depending on the rehabilitation efforts necessary, Castaic Lake drawdowns may occur for short periods of time.

Ensuring continued dam safety, DWR routinely monitors and inspects Castaic Dam, implementing preventative measures as conditions change.

Castaic Lake, completed in 1974 and located 45 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, provides regulatory storage, water supply, and a variety of recreational opportunities.

Appellate court grants filing of amicus briefs in Abatti v. IID case

From the Imperial Irrigation District:

The Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal, in the Michael Abatti, et al. v. Imperial Irrigation District case, has issued an order granting the applications for the filing of several “friend of the court” briefs.

According to the order, any party to the appeal has 20 days to file an answer to the amicus curiae briefs.

Amicus curiae briefs are filed by third parties who have a strong interest in the court’s ruling and offer additional information, expertise or insight into the subject matter. The decision on whether to allow an amicus curiae brief to be considered in the case lies within the discretion of the court.

In its order of October 28, the court received briefs from: the Imperial County Farm Bureau, Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and Imperial Valley Water (jointly), San Joaquin Tributaries Authority, Association of California Water Agencies, State Water Resources Control Board and the Imperial Valley Coalition for the Fair Sharing of Water.

“The outcome of this case will dictate the future of the Imperial Valley’s water rights and who controls them,” said IID Board President Erik Ortega. “I am pleased to learn of the court’s recent action and it is my hope that very soon, a ruling will be issued.”

In September 2017, IID filed its appeal of the August 2017 decision by an Imperial County Superior Court judge.  The decision ruled against the district invalidating IID’s method of apportioning water, known as the Equitable Distribution Plan, based on the conclusion that agricultural landowners owned the water rights held by the district.

That judgment contained several findings, conclusions and rulings of great concern to IID, including a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the water rights held by IID and other legal errors that could jeopardize the Imperial Valley’s historic water rights and restrict the district’s ability to provide reliable water supplies to all of its customers in the future.

Throughout the case, the district has argued that IID “legally acquired and owns the water rights to the Colorado River water that it diverts and delivers to the Imperial Valley,” and that those rights are held by IID “in trust for its uses and purposes” under irrigation district law.

IID was therefore, “well within” its powers when it adopted the EDP to apportion water to all its water users.

More information about the suit can be found at: https://www.iid.com/water/rules-and-regulations/equitable-distribution

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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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